New Hampshire DUI Laws & Attorneys
by Joshua Dale
Live free or die is the state motto. Live too freely and violate New Hampshire’s DUI laws and it may be the death knell for your driver’s license and personal freedoms.
New Hampshire’s DUI ‘per se’ law states that a blood alcohol content of .08% by itself constitutes impairment to a degree that you are assumed to be unsafe behind the wheel. However, you can also be prosecuted for driving ‘under the influence’ if it can be proven that you were driving in an unsafe manner. Under this theory 05% to .08% BAC is considered relevant evidence, and circumstantial evidence, such as slurred speech, blood shot, watery eyes, unbalanced coordination, hazardous driving, and field sobriety tests can be proof that a driver was ‘under the influence’.
If you haven’t been drinking or you believe that you might have been “impaired” from a benign source such as alcohol based paint or solvents, mouthwash, prescription or over-the-counter drugs be aware that you can still be arrested for a New Hampshire DUI, even though you are not “legally drunk”.
You should note that you have the right to a second BAC test at your own expense at a place of your choice. When blood is drawn with or without a request from law enforcement, it is extremely important to have your New Hampshire DUI attorney contact the hospital immediately with notice of the federal confidentiality law and to assert your patient’s rights regarding the privacy of medical records.
After being charged with a New Hampshire DUI you’re going to face two adversaries: the criminal courts and the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles. If your license was suspended or revoked because of a DUI, you will be offered a formal hearing. DMV hearings may be a crucial opportunity to let your New Hampshire DUI defense attorney cross-examine and rebut testimony, confront evidence offered by those involved in your arrest and investigation.
You have the right to make request within 30 days for an administrative hearing with the DMV to try avoiding the loss of driving privileges. Your license will be lost if a hearing is not requested, for not appearing, or for an unsuccessful outcome. DMV sanctions can also be imposed even if you are found not guilty in a criminal court case.
Be advised that New Hampshire and 45 states and the District of Columbia have an out-of-state Driver’s License Compact Agreement. This means that New Hampshire DUI convictions will be reported to your home state which will generally take action to suspend your license. Offenses for out-of-state drivers can also create other complications. Consequently, it’s imperative that you contact a local New Hampshire DUI attorney to walk you through the procedures and insure that you don’t face complications with bail, jail, and your driving privileges.
Across the country DUI laws and evidentiary procedures are being challenged, while at the same time state laws are becoming more severe. To be certain that you have the correct and current knowledge contact a New Hampshire DUI specialist. In any case, when you are stopped and arrested for suspicion of a New Hampshire DUI, request to see a DUI attorney, the sooner the better.
– Info You Should Know –
Was I Stopped Legally?
Basically you were stopped because of an equipment failure or an officer had probable cause to think you were driving in an impaired manner. Arrests for drunk driving in every state focuses on four areas: driving patterns, physical appearance, field sobriety tests, and chemical tests.
Not all reasons offered by officers are legal. Check with a New Hampshire DUI attorney who will examine all the different aspects of your case, will defend you aggressively and try to mitigate any penalties.
Should I Have Talked To the Cop?
Remember that you don’t have to answer any questions that will incriminate you. Most people say that they have had a "couple of drinks” which is not necessarily incriminating. However such "statements of consumption" will be used against them in court or at a hearing.
And if you plan to refuse a sobriety test – which may not be the best action – you should inform the officer who stopped you that you would rather wait until instructed by a New Hampshire DUI lawyer. But be advised if you refuse the test under the implied consent law you can lose your license on the spot, and probably for many months.
Did I Have A Right To Make A Call?
The police are not required to advise you of this right. But once a request is made, they are obligated to provide an opportunity to make a call, hopefully to a New Hampshire DUI specialist.
I’m Simply Going To Plead Guilty, Why Do I Need A New Hampshire DUI Lawyer?
The penalties and the numerous, complicated laws relating to motor vehicles, DUI charges and New Hampshire drunk driving laws should be taken very seriously. New Hampshire DUI convictions and penalties can be long lasting and severe, both in court and with the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles which regulates your driving privileges.
Experienced and skilled legal counsel may be able to help maximize your defenses thereby mitigating your penalties. A New Hampshire DUI defense attorney will level the playing field between you and the prosecution in an effort to provide and preserve your constitutional rights.
When considering consulting a New Hampshire DUI attorney, take into account the impact of a criminal conviction: possible loss of voting privileges, increased cost or cancellation of auto insurance, lost educational opportunities, inability to rent or own cars, restrictions on travel, damage to security clearances, job barriers, possible harm to professional credentials or certifications, and the loss of freedom. Don’t you think these rights, possessions, achievements, and abilities are worth protecting?
What’s A New Hampshire DUI Defense Attorney Going To Cost?
One of the biggest concerns for people charged with driving while intoxicated is attorney fees. As cases vary, so does cost. Most people don’t realize that money spent now on skillful help from a New Hampshire DUI attorney might save them untold cost in money, personal and professional loss in the years to come.
What Are Court Costs?
Additional fines for court or administrative services, depending on the state penal or vehicle codes violated. They can be costly.
Did I Have To Take a Field Sobriety Test (FST)?
Unlike blood and breath testing, submitting to a "field sobriety test" is voluntary, but do not expect an officer to inform you of this. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the only tests that have been shown to have some relevance in establishing legal intoxication are the One Leg Stand, the Heel-to Toe and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). The results of these tests will be entered as evidence against you. But even under laboratory conditions, these tests have only been established to be accurate in predicting blood alcohol content above .10% in 66% to 77% of the time.
What if I Refused To Take a BAC (blood alcohol content) Test?
Refusal carries penalties. The arresting officer will take your license and it will be automatically suspended. You may request a hearing within 30 days of the arrest to contest the validity of the confiscation or suspension.
This hearing is not a trial and producing evidence of innocence and the burden of proof bears upon the accused.
Can I Plea Bargain?
It is next to impossible to plea bargain a New Hampshire drunk driving charge without an experienced New Hampshire DUI lawyer. Often effective DUI counsel will be able to negotiate a plea to a lesser charge.
A plea bargain means that you agree to plead guilty to some lesser charge or having your attorney and prosecutor mitigate the penalties. Practiced New Hampshire DUI attorneys often times will be able to negotiate a plea to a lesser charge as many cases are resolved prior to trial. The plea bargain is extremely advantageous to anyone accused of a New Hampshire DUI, but remember even a conviction to a lesser charge will still count as a ‘prior’ for calculating penalties for future offenses.
I’ve Heard of A Nolo Contendere Plea, What Is It?
In legal terms, nolo contendere (Latin for “I do not wish to contest”) is an alternative to a guilty or not guilty plea. While not technically a guilty plea, a nolo plea has many of the same effects, but with some mitigating circumstances. In most states you can only plea nolo once in DUI cases. Generally a judge decides whether a nolo plea will be accepted, and it is not always available.
In any case, without services of a veteran New Hampshire DUI specialist, specialized pleas or plea bargaining is not possible.
Is Being Punished by the New Hampshire DMV and the Criminal Courts Double Jeopardy?
Like most states, New Hampshire DUI law permits the enforcement of administrative penalties in addition to court punishments, as the state considers driving a privilege, not a right, and not subject to civil liberties. New Hampshire DMV administers driver’s licenses, imposes civil penalties, serves as the judge, jury and also deals out punishment.
What if I Am An Out-Of-State Driver?
Be advised that New Hampshire and most states have an out-of-state Driver’s License Compact Agreement, meaning that New Hampshire DUI convictions will be reported to your home state which will generally take action to suspend your license. Offenses for out-of-state drivers can also create other complications. Consequently, it’s imperative that you contact a local New Hampshire DUI attorney to walk you through the procedures and insure that you don’t face complications with bail, jail, and your driving privileges.
What Happens In Court?
You’ll have to make several appearances. In a criminal case you have the right to a jury trial with presumption of innocence, but once convicted, it can be up to the judge what punishment you will receive. The sentencing range, and whether the offense will be a misdemeanor or a felony, is based on a number of things including the number of priors. These convictions include any previous New Hampshire administrative or criminal court drunk driving suspensions, for refusal to submit to a BAC test, or any ‘operating while intoxicated’ convictions in other states. There are also penalty enhancements due to aggravated circumstances.
In addition, a judge may require you to participate in alcohol or drug treatment programs as part of a parole (probation) program or have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle, or even have your vehicle seized and forfeited.
What About Enhanced Punishments For Multiple New Hampshire DUI Convictions?
Many circumstances may lead to sentence enhancements: prior DUI convictions, the presence of a minor in the car, speeding, reckless driving and an elevated BAC level, and causing an accident with injuries or property damage.
Any time you face multiple or ‘aggravated’ charges, or if death, injuries or sizeable property damage occurs, the fallout for New Hampshire multiple convictions will get very heavy, including thousands of dollars in fines, mandatory years of imprisonment, massive restitution and of loss of license and vehicles for years, if not permanently. We strongly recommend retaining an experienced New Hampshire DUI attorney in order to secure the best possible outcome of a potentially severe situation.
What About My Insurance?
Your insurance rates will probably increase or be cancelled. Rates for your family members, or even for your employer (if you use a company car), may increase as well.
– New Hampshire Criminal Penalties –
1st Offense New Hampshire DUI Penalties
A Class B misdemeanor.
$350 to $2000 fine, plus assessments.
9 months to 2 years license revocation.
Mandatory completion of an impaired driver intervention program.
Substance abuse treatment according to professional assessment.
Offenders may have to reimburse state for up to $10,000 in costs due to DUI incidents.
500 hours of community service can offset reimbursement fees.
Hardship licenses available
Any loss of license may warrant ignition interlock on vehicle for 6 months to 2 years even after license is reinstated.(Interlock prevents the vehicle from being started if the driver has a BAC of greater than .02%).
Must pay all costs of rehabilitation.
A Class A misdemeanor.
3 years loss of license.
2nd offense within 2 years of a prior offense: 30 days minimum in jail and 7 days in the state’s DWI Offender Intervention Detention Center.
2nd offense if occurred between 2 and 10 years of prior: 10 days minimum jail and 7 days in the state’s DUI Offender Intervention Detention Center.
Same penalties as the 2nd conviction plus:
A minimum of 30 days in jail and a 28 day intensive substance abuse program.
Driver’s license is revoked indefinitely and no reinstatement for 5 years.
4th & Subsequent Offenses
All the penalties for 3rd offense.
No driver’s license reinstatement for a period of at least 7 years.
$280 to $380.
Plus a 20 hour alcohol/drug education course..
Aggravated DUI Circumtances
Driving more than 30 mph over the speed limit;
Causing an accident that results in serious bodily injury.
Attempting to elude law enforcement
Passenger under the age of 16 in vehicle.
BAC at or above .16%:
$500 to $2000 fine, plus 20% assessment.
Minimum 10 days incarceration in the state’s DUI Offender Intervention Detention Center.
18 months to 2 years loss of license.
Injury caused by accident is a Class B Felony:
Incarceration in the DUI Offender Intervention Detention Center 21 days.
18 months to 2 years loss of license.
Vehicle Registration must be revoked during the same period as loss of license.
BAC Test Refusal
180 days license suspension for 1st refusal.
Suspension cannot run concurrently (at the same time) with any other penalties.
With any prior 2 years license suspension.
Under 21 DUI
BAC of .02%
1st offense 6 month loss of license.
Commercial Driver’s License
1st offense DUI or BAC refusal is 1 year suspension.
Transporting hazardous material with DUI, 3 year suspension.
Subsequent convictions, lifetime disqualification.
– New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles –
DMV Penalties1st offense
3 months to 2 years loss of license,.
$350 to $1000 in fines
$500 to $1000 fine.
3 months to 1 year loss of license with any prior offense (within 7 years).
Must complete a 7 day residential Impaired Driver Intervention Program.
Any vehicle registered to an individual losing driver’s license shall be revoked for the same period as loss of license.
3 months loss of license.
3 year license revocation with any prior (within 7 years).
Possible revocation of vehicle registration.
Plus any substance abuse therapy.
2 year loss of license, in addition to court penalties.
$500 1st refusal, $1,000 2nd refusal.
2nd offense loss of license for 2 years in addition to court penalties.
Possible revocation of vehicle registration.
Plus any substance abuse therapy.
$500 to $1,000 fine.
License revocation: 1 year mandatory to 2 years loss of license.
Aggravated DUI is based on a blood alcohol concentration of .16% or higher.
Involvement with Drugs
Same as DUI penalties.
Plus possible loss of license for 90 days to life.
Probationary License Caution
A probationary license is in effect for 3 years from the date of restoration.
If stopped and found to be operating a motor vehicle with a .03% BAC or higher, your license will be administratively revoked by DMV for 90 to180 days, in addition to any court imposed sanctions.
– Disclaimer –
Only experienced New Hampshire DUI attorneys should provide you with bonified legal advice concerning New Hampshire DUI laws. Consequently, the aforementioned information on this web site should not be construed as legal advice, rather suggestions and a range of helpful information and should not be substituted for speaking with accredited New Hampshire DUI attorneys. There is no warrantee, expressed or implied herein. These issues are complicated, laws change and litigation takes experience. Please let us refer you to a seasoned professional New Hampshire DUI attorney specializing in DUI cases.
– Citations –
New Hampshire Administrative License Suspension
New Hampshire DWI, 1st Offense
RSA 265:82 and RSA 263:65-a
New Hampshire DWI, 2nd Offense
RSA 265:82-bI (b) (I)
New Hampshire DWI Multiple Offense
Mandatory Suspension or Revocation of Registration
RSA 261:180 III
RSA 250:39 and RSA 259:19
New Hampshire Implied Consent
RSA 265:92I (a) 1&2
Revocation or Denial for Drugs
or Alcohol Involvement