DWI Consequences in New Hampshire

Court-Imposed Driving While Intoxicated Penalties

New Hampshire law imposes serious consequences in impaired driving cases. A standard first-offense DWI is a crime.

A DWI conviction in court calls for a minimum license loss of 9 months and a maximum license loss of 2 years, but 6 months of this license loss may be reduced. Reduction of this sentence depends on submission to alcohol and drug abuse screening and, if testing demonstrates the likelihood of a substance use disorder, submission to a full substance use disorder evaluation and compliance with any treatment recommendations from that evaluation as well as completion of the Impaired Driver Intervention Program (IDIP). There is also a high fine and the possibility that the court could require the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Additionally, a decision to refuse a breath test or to take a breath test with a breath alcohol content exceeding a 0.08% for drivers over 21 and exceeding 0.02 for drivers under 21 results in an administrative license loss of 6 months for first offenses and 2 years for subsequent offenses. Understanding this administrative process is important in defending a DWI case in New Hampshire. Within 30 days from an arrest, our lawyers demand an administrative hearing to object to the 6-month or 2 year administrative penalty.

This is strategically important for several reasons. First, we wish to contest the administrative penalty. Second, the administrative hearing supplies our lawyers with an important opportunity to negotiate the case with police officers and prosecutors.

Last, the administrative hearing, itself, permits our NH DWI lawyers a crucial opportunity to confront the officer, cross examine him or her and begin to build a record which sets the stage for effective preparation for a trial in court.

Penalties for Subsequent Offenses

A second offense DWI conviction within two years of the first conviction is a Class A Misdemeanor and calls for a minimum 60 day jail term, fine of $750 plus Penalty Assessment and alcohol and/or drug assessment and treatment. Thirty days of this 60 day jail term may be suspended, however, based on scheduling of a substance use disorder evaluation within 30 days of release, completion of the required substance use disorder evaluation within 60 days of release and compliance with the service plan. Failure to comply with the program developed from this evaluation will result in the imposition of the suspended portion of this jail sentence. In addition to these penalties, subsequent offense DWI convictions require installation of an ignition interlock device for one to two years following reinstatement of driving privileges. In sum, this means that persons convicted of a second offense within two years of the first must serve 30 days in jail with the risk for an additional 30 days in jail based on failure to meet program obligations. Subsequent offense convictions also typically result in a two-year administrative suspension.

A second offense DWI conviction within 10 years of the first offense, but outside of two years from the first conviction is a Class A Misdemeanor, calls for a minimum sentence of 17 days in the House of Corrections, a 3 year license loss, a fine of $750 plus Penalty Assessment and alcohol and/or drug assessment and treatment. Twelve days of this jail sentence may be suspended, however, based on scheduling of a substance abuse disorder evaluation within 30 days of release, completion of the required substance use disorder evaluation within 60 days of release and compliance with the plan for treatment developed during this evaluation.

Failure to comply with the treatment plan, may result in the imposition of the suspended 12 days in jail. In addition to these penalties, subsequent offense DWI convictions require installation of an ignition interlock device for one to two years following reinstatement of driving privileges. In sum, this means that those convicted of a second offense DWI within 10 years of a first conviction, but out outside of 2 years from the first conviction, must serve a minimum of 5 days in jail and risk an additional 12 days in jail based on non-compliance with treatment obligations. Subsequent offense convictions also typically result in a two-year administrative suspension.

Third Offense DWI Convictions are treated as a Class A Misdemeanor, require indefinite revocation of driving privileges, a fine of $750 plus Penalty Assessment, 180 days at the House of Corrections and alcohol and/or drug evaluation and treatment. Of this 180 day jail sentence, 150 days may be suspended based on scheduling a substance use disorder evaluation within 30 days of release, completion of the required substance use disorder evaluation within 60 days of release and compliance with the plan developed.

The license loss is indefinite, however, a person may petition the court to reapply for a driver's license within 5 years. Where the person shows good cause for restoration, the court may grant eligibility. After a court grants eligibility, the person may apply to the Department of Safety for restoration of driving privileges where the person must demonstrate compliance and completion of program obligations and that all fees have been paid. Fourth Offense DWI convictions are felonies and discussed under the section entitled "Felony DWIs."

Contact a New Hampshire DWI Lawyer

There are several collateral consequences to consider as well. The accumulation of multiple major motor vehicle driving convictions inside a five-year period and may result in habitual offender consequences including long-term license losses and jail. Further, DWI convictions result in six points against a New Hampshire privilege to drive. Accordingly, the defense of DWI cases requires a careful examination of our clients' motor vehicle record to guard against these difficult consequences.

Contact Shaheen & Gordon, P.A. today to find out how our NH DWI attorneys can help!

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