If you were convicted of a first offense DWI in New Hampshire, you may be eligible for a work license/hardship license. This license is not automatic and needs to be approved by a Judge.
We handle motions for hardship licenses on a flat fee basis. Our fee is $700 for people who weren't clients, and $500 for former clients. Give us a call to see how we can help.
Hardship licenses are finally here for those who are eligible. Effective January 1, 2016, certain people convicted of DWI in New Hampshire will be eligible for a hardship/restricted license under N.H. RSA 263:57-b. There are some different things people must do to be eligible including having SR-22 insurance, an interlock device, and proving a hardship. In order to get a hardship license, if eligible, you must petition the court and have them grant the license.
Besides doing the things needed and showing a hardship, there are certain things that make someone ineligible for a hardship license. If you are found guilty of Aggravated DWI, you will not be eligible. If you are found guilty of a second offense, you also will not be eligible. If you are charged with Aggravated or Subsequent offense, and you want to get a hardship license, it is imperative you not be found guilty or plead guilty to either of those offenses.
Previously, I was able to help my client charged with Aggravated DWI (for blowing a .27) and who had a prior DWI get a plea bargain of standard DWI (which also avoided the mandatory jail time). I was able to explain to the prosecutor and judge how the driving factor behind the plea was so that he would able to drive to work which is an house away from where he lives. As soon as the law takes effect, we will be filing a motion for a hardship license so that my client can again drive to work and not lose his job. New Hampshire has not had a work/Cinderella/hardship license in the past, and I expect my client will be one of the first people to be able to benefit from the new law.
If you have already plead guilty to a DWI, we may be able to get you a hardship license (as long as it was a first offense and not aggravated). Give our lawyers a call to see how we can help you.
Here is an article I wrote for other lawyers about the hardship license:
Limited License for Drivers Convicted of DWI Takes Effect January 1, 2016
It has long been the law in New Hampshire that drivers convicted of DWI were unable to obtain a limited license (also referred to as a limited license, work-license, or Cinderella license in some states like Massachusetts) after being convicted of DWI. Effective January 1, 2016, N.H. RSA 263:57-b takes effect to allow a hardship license under certain conditions.
To be eligible for a limited license, a person must first be convicted of a first offense non-aggravated DWI which did not involve driving a commercial vehicle. The person must then apply to the Court for a hardship license (limited driving privilege license). To be eligible, the driver must first obtain SR-22 insurance. The next step is to show a need for the license. The law is broad as to what constitutes a need including:
“(a) That the person must operate a motor vehicle as a requisite of the person's occupation or employment.
(b) That the person must operate a motor vehicle to seek employment or to get to and from a place of employment.
(c) That the person must operate a motor vehicle to get to or from an alcohol or drug treatment or rehabilitation program.
(d) That the person or a member of the person's immediate family requires medical treatment on a regular basis and the person must operate a motor vehicle in order that the treatment may be obtained.
(e) That the person must operate a motor vehicle to continue his or her education.
(f) That the person must operate a motor vehicle to attend job training.”
The limited license will only take effect after someone has been under suspension for at least 45 days (including both the criminal suspension and any administrative suspension from the DMV). If granted, the limited license will only be valid for the times and manner stated in the Court order. This is important to be aware of as drivers who drive outside of the scope of the limited license face the same penalties as someone who drives after suspension of DWI. Those penalties include a minimum 7 days in jail, an additional year loss of license, and mandatory interlock device.
Once the hardship license is granted, the driver must notify local law enforcement, and the driver can only operate a vehicle that has an interlock device. An interlock device is a breath testing device for the car. The cost to the person is around $100 a month.
This bill is a great first step to address a major problem. A majority of the States have offered some form of hardship license for a while. New Hampshire remained one of the few who did not offer any hardship license no matter what the reason or need was. This caused many people to lose their job and not be able to provide for their family, or otherwise obtain treatment or medical care. Unfortunately, many people faced with this impossible dilemma would choose to risk driving. Those who got caught wound up continuing the cycle of damage as the license loss would then be extended. This law had the support of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) as one of the requirements is that the driver have an interlock device, which is intended to prevent people from driving with even minor amounts of alcohol in their system.
Unfortunately, the law has some shortcomings. It appears the bill requires a DWI conviction. Most drivers charged with DWI go under suspension for 180 days under the implied consent statute for either refusal a chemical test, or testing above the legal limit. Apparently, those accused drivers would have to wait until they plead guilty or are found guilty before even applying for the hardship. Oddly, drivers who are found not guilty of the DWI charge seem to be out of luck and wind up with a longer loss of license than those drivers who are found guilty. Hopefully, the legislature, DMV, or Courts can address this issue.
This bill was signed a while ago, only to take effect January 1, 2016. Presumably, this gave the DMV an opportunity to address how to handle it. It also is an opportunity and possible and obligation for lawyers to address the needs of past clients. The law allows people to obtain the hardship license even if they were convicted prior to the law’s effective date. As a first offense DWI carries a maximum license loss of two years, someone who has found guilty of a first offense years ago (up to a two year consecutive chemical test refusal could have been in addition to the criminal penalty) can take advantage of this new law. It would be good practice for attorneys who contact those clients who may now be eligible for a hardship license.