How Does New Hampshire Define a Motor Vehicle For DWI Purposes?
The arrival of summer in the state of New Hampshire is also accompanied also by the arrival of lawnmowers, boats, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and bicycles. During the lazy days of summer, it is quite possible that you will spend a morning mowing your lawn and then choose to take your boat out on the lake for a relaxing afternoon jaunt. On the other hand, you might decide to head into the forest on your ATV or take a bike ride to enjoy some fresh air. While any of these options certainly sound relaxing, if you have been drinking, it could potentially lead to a DWI charge.
In the state of New Hampshire, pursuant to Title XXI, Chapter 265-A, it is classified as illegal to drive or attempt to operate an automobile in any manner or to operate an off road recreational vehicle (OHRV) while the motorist is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, particularly if the individual’s blood alcohol content is .08% or higher. If this individual is under the age of 21, then the allowed BAC levels drop down to .02%.
Moreover, under the same state statute, it is classified as illegal for an individual to operate or attempt to operate a boat under the same conditions.
The Department of New Hampshire Fish and Game is responsible for overseeing off road recreational vehicles, and this department defines such vehicles as any vehicle that is mechanically propelled used on public roads for pleasure or recreational purposes and is dependent upon the ground or any other surface that is used for the purpose of travel.
Per state laws, NH DWI laws also address boating while intoxicated. Per its legal definition, a boat is defined as any vessel, used upon the water, which is propelled via sail or motor. In addition to motorboats, this definition also includes kayaks and canoes.
As to whether a lawn mower or bicycle is classified as a motor vehicle, the law becomes slightly more murky. There exist a handful of cases within our state wherein an individual has been charged with a DWI while driving a lawnmower or using a bicycle on an open road, but it has not been made clear whether or not any of these cases led to an actual conviction. NH residents should be aware that, while lawnmowers and bicycles are not specifically outlined within New Hampshire’s DWI laws, they are listed as motorized vehicles and equipment in other areas of the state’s laws.
The consequences for operation a motor vehicle or boat while intoxicated in New Hampshire are harsh. Even a first time offense can result in a minimum monetary fine of $500.00, required attendance in an IDCMP program, and the loss of one’s driving privileges, which can range anywhere from nine months to upwards of two years. From here, things only increase and can include possible jail time.
The consequences resulting from a DWI conviction also extend to using an off road vehicle or ATV while under the influence of alcohol. However, what one must remember is that a DWI conviction will not only result in the loss of their ability to drive their ATV, but is also applied to drive a standard passenger vehicle. For a bus or commercial driver, this also includes the loss of the ability to drive commercial vehicles.
If you’ve been charged with a DWI in the state of New Hampshire, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experienced and skilled NH DWI attorneys immediately. Your initial consultation is free, and our NH DWI lawyers will examine each element of your case carefully in order to mount the best possible defense. For more information, contact us today via phone, email, or through our website.