You can lose your license for up to 2 years if you get a DUI in New Hampshire even if it’s your first offense. New Hampshire DUI convictions are reported to other states through the Interstate Driver’s License Compact. This means that if you’re from another state and convicted of drunk driving in New Hampshire, your arrest will be on record and will most likely affect your conviction if you’re arrested again in your home state. That’s why it’s important if you’re arrested to contact an experienced attorney right away.
WARNING! If you have been arrested for New Hampshire Driving Under the Influence (DUI), and refused to take a breath, blood, or urine test after being arrested for DUI / DWI in New Hampshire, or if the results of your test were .08% blood alcohol or above, your license will be suspended 30 days after the arrest unless you or your DUI / DWI attorney take appropriate action to demand an administrative hearing within 30 calendar days after the arrest. For a first-time refusal or breath test failure, your license will be suspended for 180 days without this hearing.
New Hampshire DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) laws are charged in two different ways. The first is the common-law drunk driving case, where one is arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two. The prosecutor will use evidence of driving pattern, physical appearance, and field sobriety test performance as circumstantial evidence to show impairment at the time of driving to seek a New Hampshire DUI conviction.
New Hampshire DUI arrests and prosecutions can also be based on New Hampshire’s “per se” DUI law. This DUI law cares nothing about whether or not the suspect exhibits any sign of impairment or not; it is based purely on body chemistry. Was the driver above a .08% BAC (blood or breath alcohol level) at the time they were behind the wheel? As a qualified New Hampshire, DUI defense lawyer will be able to tell you, a later stationhouse breath or blood test will only tell you what the person’s BAC was at the time of testing, NOT at the time of driving. It is merely circumstantial evidence of the alcohol level at the time of driving, which is very important in the hands of a New Hampshire DUI / DWI defense attorney.
New Hampshire DUI convictions are reported to other states through the Interstate Driver’s License Compact. This means that if you are from another state, and convicted of drunk driving (DUI or DWI) in New Hampshire, your home state can (and probably will) learn of the drunk driving conviction and impose license consequences upon you there. This is yet one more reason why it is critically important to contact a New Hampshire drunk driving defense lawyer right away if you have been stopped for suspicion of New Hampshire DUI.
Curiously, those charged with a first-offense D.U.I. in New Hampshire do NOT have the right to a jury trial. Those charged with an aggravated first-offense DUI, or a multiple-offense DUI or DWI, do have the right to a jury trial.
Punishment for New Hampshire DUI
New Hampshire DUI laws have been the subject of recent legislation and changes. The penalties for a drunk driving arrest prior to January 1, 2005, are set forth below:
For those arrested for DUI / DWI after January 1, 2005, there are enhanced punishments.
For an aggravated DWI conviction, you must now complete a seven-day residential treatment program at the State’s Multiple DWI Offender Detention Center in Laconia; that sentence must be served within 24 days of your conviction and follows a minimum of three days in the County House of Correction.
For a 2nd offense DWI, you are sentenced to complete a one-week residential treatment program at the State’s Multiple DWI Offender Detention Center in Laconia; that sentence must be served within 24 days of your conviction and follows a minimum of three days in the County House of Correction. Those with more than one previous conviction may be sentenced to a residential treatment program of up to 28 days.
For either a second offense or an aggravated DWI, you must begin to follow any treatment recommendations from your seven-day treatment program within 60 days after completion of the program.
A more serious charge of aggravated DWI may be brought against you if certain specified circumstances exist, the most common of which is if a chemical test shows an alcohol concentration of 0.16% or more; you also may be charged with aggravated DWI if you were in excess of thirty miles an hour over the speed limit or attempted to flee or elude the police. Aggravated DWI is a criminal offense, a class A misdemeanor unless you are charged with a more serious felony for having caused serious bodily injury (including injury to yourself) while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If convicted of an aggravated DWI, you must be fined between $500.00 and $2000.00, plus a mandatory penalty assessment of 20% of the amount of your fine. You will be sentenced to a minimum of three days in the County House of Correction, up to a maximum of one year, immediately followed by seven days in the Multiple DWI Intervention Detention Center (MOP), In addition, you will receive a license loss of between one and two years. Beginning January 1, 2004, the minimum license that the Court may impose is eighteen months, but six months of that period may be suspended by the Court if you enter into a mandatory alcohol treatment program within forty-five days of the date of your conviction; your failure to enter the program in a timely fashion will prevent the court and the Department of Safety from restoring your license sooner than eighteen months unless you can demonstrate extenuating circumstances to the division of health and human services. Prior to restoration, you must have completed the Multiple Offender Program; you are also required to begin following any treatment recommendations within 60 days of the date you complete the program.
DWI second, or subsequent offense, is a crime, a Class A misdemeanor, and the State must prove that you have been convicted of DWI within ten years of the offense. It carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three days in the County House of Correction, with up to a year’s imprisonment in the discretion of the Judge, immediately followed by seven days in the New Hampshire Multiple DWI Offender Intervention Detention Center, an in-patient alcohol treatment and incarceration facility located in Laconia, N. H. DWI, 2nd offense also carry a three-year license loss, both maximum and minimum, a minimum fine of $500.00, up to a maximum of $2,000.00, plus a 20% penalty assessment. If you are convicted of a second-offense DWI that occurred within two years of the date of your first conviction, you face a minimum mandatory jail sentence of thirty days, immediately followed by seven days in the Multiple Offender Program. If you have two or more prior DWI convictions, you also face higher mandatory minimum penalties, including thirty days in jail and attendance at a residential alcohol treatment program of up to 28 days, and an even longer license loss. Fourth-time DWI offenders face a felony conviction and a possible seven years in State Prison.
Obviously, New Hampshire DUI punishment is severe, making it important to consult with a skilled New Hampshire drunk driving defense lawyer as quickly as possible following an arrest for suspicion of DUI.