A Comprehensive Guide to New Hampshire DUIs
One of the most serious traffic violations a New Hampshire motorist can be convicted of is driving while intoxicated. The New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles, Department of Safety, and other law enforcement agencies enact severe consequences for NH motorists convicted of a DWI. Although different types of tests may be used to ascertain a motorist’s DWI condition, the ensuing disciplinary measures and consequences remain unchanged.
Defining DWI Under NH State Law
When a New Hampshire motorist is stopped by a state trooper or police officer, the law enforcement official is required to inform the motorist of why. If the officer has reasonable suspicion that the motorist is operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then they may choose to employ one of several different types of sobriety tests, including:
§ Balance tests
§ Breathalyzer tests
§ Urine tests
§ Blood tests
When a New Hampshire resident accepts their state driver’s license, they are agreeing to the implied consent law. Under the tenants of this law, a motorist agrees to submit to a sobriety test when asked to do so by law enforcement. An NH motorist maintains the right to refuse to submit to the test; however, if they choose to do so, he or she will automatically lose their license for a minimum of 180 days.
If a motorist takes, and fails, the field sobriety test administered to them, then the officer will charge the motorist with DWI. If their blood alcohol content is over .08%, then they have surpassed the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle. However, even if their BAC remains under .08%, the law enforcement officer retains the right to arrest the motorist for DWI if they believe that their consumption of alcohol has influence their ability to drive.
A police officer will believe that a motorist’s driving abilities have been unduly influenced by alcohol if they notice any of the following behaviors:
§ Starting and stopping with sudden jerks
§ Driving too quickly or too slowly
§ Improperly passing other vehicles
§ Straddling lanes
§ Running over curbs
Commercial Drivers and DWIs
Massachusetts state laws for commercial operators are much more aggressive, due to the responsibility and risk that is assumed by driving an oversized tractor trailer. A commercial driver of one of these big risks can expect to be hit with the full force of the law if alcohol is found to be in their bloodstream while they are driving. If a commercial driver has a blood alcohol content of over .02%, then they can expect to be removed from the road on a temporary basis. For those with a BAC of .04% or higher, their CDL license will be suspended for an indefinite period of time. Police officers, DOT officials, and state troopers monitor commercial truck drivers more stringently than they do the drivers of Class D vehicles.
The Consequences of a New Hampshire DUI
How long a New Hampshire motorist loses their license is dependent upon the nature of their crime. Those who are charged with disobeying law enforcement officials, reckless driving, excessive speed, or extreme BAC, in addition to a DWI, can expect to face longer license suspensions and higher fines.
A motorist who is convicted of a first offense NH DWI may have their license suspended for anywhere from ninety days to upwards of two years, in addition to monetary fines. Depending upon the particulars of their case, they may also be required to enroll in an impaired driver program. A first offense New Hampshire DUI is considered a traffic violation.
However, motorists who are convicted of a second offense DWI will have a misdemeanor on their record. As a part of the punishment for a second offense DWI, a motorist will be required to enroll in an alcohol education class at a state approved alcohol treatment facility. Other punishments that an impaired driver can expect to receive for a second offense include:
§ Fines up to $1,000
§ Cost of approved treatment program
§ Auto insurance premium for required SR-22
§ Reinstatement fees
§ Attorney costs
The exact penalties that a motorist faces for their DWI conviction will differ according to which age category they fall into. When a conviction is made, the DMV Demerit Point System is taken into account. If a motorist has already accumulated enough points on their driver’s license, then the suspension period for their license could be considerably longer.
If a New Hampshire resident were to lose their license because of an NH DWI conviction, it can produce serious ramifications. It will be exceedingly difficult for one to commute back and forth from work or school. Moreover, if a motorist cannot work, they cannot earn money to pay the costs associated with their DUI in order to receive their license again.
Appeals and License Reinstatement
A New Hampshire motorist has the legal right to appeal a DWI conviction in front of the New Hampshire Bureau of Hearings. However, applying for an appeal hearing is a lengthy and time consuming process. The Vehicle Code that governs NH law is complex and intricate, and for this reason, convicted motorists are encouraged to retain competent legal counsel to represent their best interests in a court of law.
Once the period of license suspension has passed, the requirements for automobile insurance have been met, and alcohol treatment and jail time have been served, a motorist is eligible to apply for the reinstatement of their license.
Those who have been charged with a New Hampshire DWI are encouraged to contact our professional and experienced NH DWI lawyers today for a free consultation. Although a DWI charge is a serious offense, we understand that motorists do make occasional mistakes. We will examine the merits of your case and advise you on the appropriate course of action. Despite the fact that the consequences of a conviction are serious, it does not have to ruin the rest of your life.