Daniel Hynes

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NH DWI laws 2013

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The New Hampshire legislature has made major changes to the DWI laws effective January 1, 2013. I will go into them in detail, but some of the major changes are: DWI Drugs is now any substance/drug, not just a controlled substance; Complete revision to the alcohol programs (No more MOP); Quicker arraignments; Increased penalties for Aggravated DWI & Subsequent offense; The DMV can now require an interlock device for ANY dui. In my opinion, none of these changes help most people arrested for DWI. With increased penalties, there is even more at stake if you are convicted of DWI. New Hampshire already had some of the harshest laws and penalties in the Country, they are now even more harsh. You need to consult an experienced New Hampshire DUI Attorney as soon as possible.

1: DWI Drugs can be based upon any substance (and in my opinion everyone who drives on the road is always committing the crime of DWI due to this absurd statute)

Before January 1, 2013, to be convicted of driving under the influence of drugs, the prosecutor had to prove a "controlled substance". Many drugs are not a controlled substance and this was one of my favorite defenses. I guess the legislature got upset with too many people being found not guilty, so the statute now provides it is against the law to drive:

"under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any controlled drug, prescription drug, over-the-counter drug, or any other chemical substance, natural or synthetic, which impairs a person's ability to drive".

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has already defined under the influence as impairment to any degree. The least amount of proof possible (which happens to make NH have the most strict DWI law in the country). So, if your ability to drive is impaired even less than 1% you can be found guilty of DWI.

But, look how broad "prescription drug, over-the-counter drug, or any other chemical substance, natural or synthetic" is. This includes pretty much every substance/matter, as everything in this world has chemicals/molecules in it. So, the prosecutor could get a conviction for tylenol, every prescription medication, nicotine, water, caffeine etc. I am not a chemist or physiologist, but it seems to me if someone is just a little sleepy, hungry, depressed, anxious, happy, or pretty much anything, there are probably some chemical reactions going on in that person's brain, and substances such as serotonin are probably being affected. The way I read this absurd overbroad statute, is that if you are not driving at 100% (Which is impossible) there is likely something that affected your ability to drive even in the slightest degree. Accordingly, I posit that everyone is always committing the crime of DWI in the State of New Hampshire.

2: Complete revision to the alcohol programs

If you were convicted of DWI prior to 2013, you would have to do one of three programs: A 20 hour impaired driving intervention program (IDIP) for a first offense, a 7 day multiple offender program (MOP) for aggravated DWI or second offense, and a 28 day inpatient program for a third offense or more.

After Jan. 1, 2013, if you are found guilty of DWI, you will have to do the IDCMP program (impaired driver care management program). If you have not done the IDIP within the last 5 years, you still have to that. However, you additionally have to do an intake within 14 days of the date of conviction (this program will cost you around $100). At the program, they determine if you are at "high risk" to reoffend. If you are, expect to have to do significant counseling before you get your license back. If you enroll in that program within 14 days and do the substance use disorder evaluation within 30 days, then the state can reduce the 9 months loss of license to 90 days. It is a lot more work to now get your license back sooner (it also costs a lot more to do these programs).

The providers are not sure what the IDCMP consists of yet. However, I am guessing it isn't going to be cheaper or easier than the old programs.

3: Increased penalties for Aggravated DWI and 2nd Offense DWI

Before 2013, if you were found guilty of Aggravated DWI or 2nd offense DWI, there was a minimum 3 days in jail and a 7 day alcohol program. That program has been eliminated, and the 3 days in jail is now not less than 17 consecutive days in jail with 12 days are suspended pending completion of the IDCMP.

4 Arraignment must be within 14 days of arrest

Now, arraignments must be within 14 days of the date of the violation. You may think this is a good idea, but it will not help many people. Too many people go to arraignments without first hiring a DWI lawyer. I often get calls with people who plead guilty based upon a statement by the prosecutor that they will get the minimum license suspension. However, the person often doesn't know about all the collateral consequences. Then, the person calls me after pleading guilty trying to get it taken back. This is incredibly difficult to do, and I often will tell the person I am sorry they plead guilty, but there is not anything I can do for them anymore.  I believe the legislature set-up the statute to get more dwi convictions. Many innocent people will plead guilty to cases that can be won.

5. The DMV can now require an interlock for any DWI

Previously, interlocks were mandatory on aggravated DWI and subsequent offense DWI. The Judge could order them in any DWI. Now, thanks to the lobbyists of the interlock device, the dmv can now require it on any DWI.

"265-A:36-a Department of Safety Authority to Order Ignition Interlock Device Installation or Enhanced Technology Ignition Interlock Device. –
    The commissioner of safety may require an administrative hearing prior to the restoration of the license or driving privilege of a person whose license or driving privilege was revoked or suspended as the result of a conviction of any offense under RSA 265-A:2, RSA 265-A:3, RSA 265:79-a where alcohol was involved, RSA 262:19, or RSA 630:3, II, and, upon a finding that the safety of the person and of other users of the highways would be enhanced thereby, may order the person, as a condition of restoration of his or her license or driving privilege, to install an ignition interlock device or enhanced technology ignition interlock device in any vehicle registered to that person or used by that person, for not less than 12 months nor more than 2 years, subject to the same conditions and prohibitions as if the interlock was ordered by a court under the provisions of this subdivision."

Nope, there are no guidelines, full discretion to the DMV.

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