Administrative License Suspension Process

Penalties for DWI in New Hampshire

The state of New Hampshire penalizes drunk drivers with both administrative license suspensions as well as court imposed criminal penalties upon conviction. The administrative suspension process begins at the time of arrest. Drivers in New Hampshire have given their implied consent to submit to breath, blood or urine testing. A driver over the age of 21 that submits to such a test with a resulting alcohol concentration greater than a 0.08 or under the age of 21 with an alcohol concentration greater than a 0.02, will suffer an administrative license loss issued by the New Hampshire Department of Safety of 180 days for a first offense and 2 years for a subsequent offense. A refusal of such testing will also result in an administrative license suspension of 180 days for a first offense and 2 years for a subsequent offense.

On the spot, law enforcement will confiscate the New Hampshire driver's license of a person that submits to a test with these results or refuses a test. They will hand you a pink form outlining the Administrative License Suspension process. This form acts as a temporary privilege to drive, but it is only valid for 30 days from the time that it is served or given to the suspect. Within this 30-day period, you have the right to request a hearing at the Department of Safety in order to contest the imposition of the administrative license loss. This hearing is separate and distinct from any court hearings and addresses only the administrative license loss.

However, it is an important part of defending a DWI case because the administrative hearing gives our DWI lawyers an opportunity to negotiate the case and confront the arresting officer or trooper with questions on the record, establishing important theories for the defense of the case in court down the road.

Separate from these administrative suspensions, the offense of DWI is a crime in New Hampshire. A conviction to a first offense DWI in court results in a license loss of 9 months and up to 2 years, a high fine and required alcohol and/or drug assessment and programing. Aggravated DWI convictions result in required jail sentences, license losses of a minimum of 18 months and involved alcohol and/or drug assessment and programing. Subsequent offense DWI convictions result in mandatory minimum jail sentences, licenses losses of 3 years for a second offense and indefinite licenses losses for third and fourth offenses as well as high fines and serious alcohol and/or drug programming. These court-imposed penalties are in addition to an administrative suspension. In cases where there is a refusal to submit to requested breath or blood testing, the administrative suspension is added on to the court-imposed sentence. In cases where there is a breath result over the per se limit, the administrative suspension runs at the same time as the court-imposed license loss.

Our DWI defense lawyers understand the relationship between the administrative suspension process and a charge of DWI in court. They regularly defend clients in both proceedings, seeking along the way to create opportunities to responsibly resolve their cases and, at the same time, preparing their cases for trial. Where trial is necessary, they rely on their experience as former prosecutors and seasoned criminal defense attorneys to size up the State's case and establish reasonable doubt.

Reinstating a Revoked or Suspended License

Our DWI lawyers know that their work is not done when a case concludes in court. They work to educate clients regarding the steps necessary to reinstate driving privileges.

New Hampshire DUI convictions result in a required license loss. Reinstatement of driving privileges requires proof of successful program completion as well as any after care obligations, payment of a reinstatement fee and an SR-22, which is a form from an insurance company establishing that the operator's privilege to drive is insured. These restoration obligations may differ, however, depending on the case. Drivers under the age of 21 must typically attend a further administrative hearing in order to reinstate driving privileges after a DWI conviction.

Following reinstatement in New Hampshire, the state issues a probationary license for a period of five years. This means that a probationary license holder cannot drive a motor vehicle with breath alcohol concentration of 0.03% or more. Violation of this restriction results in administrative license suspension, even without being "under the influence" of alcohol. Further, the law requires that a probationary license holder submit to a breath test and calls for additional administrative suspensions for the failure to do so regardless of impairment.

Protect Your License by Hiring a NH DWI Attorney

Shaheen & Gordon, P.A. strives to provide the best DWI defense attorneys in New Hampshire, Southern Maine and Northern Massachusetts. Our DWI defense team has experience spotting factual and constitutional issues common to DUI cases. We defend clients week in and week out in administrative hearings and in court, regularly handle drunk driving and impaired driving cases and are enormously proud of our track record for success. Our firm has been recognized in US News & World Report and the New Hampshire Business Review and members of its criminal defense team have been included in Super Lawyers® as well as on the Union Leader's "40 Under 40" list.

Contact our firm at your earliest convenience to set up a consultation appointment with a highly-rated attorney from an award-winning firm. We have what it takes to fight your charges!

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