Possession / Transportation of Drugs & Alcohol

New Hampshire’s Open Container Laws

According to RSA 265-A:44, it is illegal to have an “open container” in New Hampshire no matter the age of the driver. The law prohibits transporting or possessing any alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a car where the “seal” is broken. These cases are treated as Violations, but convictions can lead to a penalty of a minimum 60 day license loss for a first offense, a fine of $150, and a license loss of up to one year for subsequent offenses. Passengers are also prohibited from having an open container while the vehicle is located in a public or private way.

There are several exceptions to the Open Container Laws:

  • Passengers in hired vehicles such as taxis, buses or limos
  • Certain areas inside of a vehicle - open alcohol containers that are securely capped can be transported in the trunk or compartment that is not accessible by the driver
  • Opened table wine, as long as the individual is not intoxicated, and the bottle securely sealed and bagged in a compartment where the driver cannot access it.

Law enforcement observation of an open container can often lead to further investigation for other offenses, including Driving While Intoxicated. Our attorneys understand that substantial license losses impact our clients’ employment and family obligations. Knowledgeable about these risks, they craft their strategy to avoid license losses where possible.

Marijuana Transportation

Simple possession and transportation of marijuana remains a Misdemeanor in New Hampshire, which is a crime. Over and over again, we are called upon to defend clients in simple roadside stops, which result in arrests for drug possession. What may first appear as a minor matter quickly escalates to a major concern.

Convictions can result in criminal records as well as loss of federal financial aid for college students. Understanding the range of available outcomes in such cases is critical and these outcomes differ dramatically between different courts throughout the state.

Our defense attorneys are well aware of the various diversionary results that are common in such cases and frequently rely on that knowledge to broker outcomes for our clients which avoid criminal convictions. Where such results cannot be found, our criminal lawyers stand ready to take a case to trial knowledgeable about the issues common to drug cases, including the nuances of search and seizure law.

More and more, we see cases that begin with a routine stop of a younger driver, followed by an allegation that the officer involved can smell the odor of marijuana, resulting in a request to search the vehicle.

Sometimes, requests for consent are accompanied by claims that law enforcement will secure a search warrant or summon drug sniffing dogs if a driver does not comply with a search request.

However, New Hampshire’s constitution is more protective than the United States Constitution as well as laws in several of our sister states when it comes to search and seizure law, something that law enforcement officers often overlook on the roadside. Identifying fundamental constitutional issues, even in these simple matters, may improve case negotiations and the likelihood of successfully defending a case in court.

Transportation of Alcoholic Beverages by Minors

It is a Violation for a minor to possess or transport alcohol in a motor vehicle even in a sealed container. Convictions result in a 60 day license loss, which results in punishment to the minor driver as well as his or her family. Effective representation, includes identifying alternative ways to resolve cases without convictions and required license losses, including the consideration of community service and other counseling.

Our goal in defending any case involving a younger client is to resolve it without any conviction, where possible. For our younger clients looking forward to future job and educational opportunities, we believe insulating a client’s motor vehicle record is enormously important and we frame our defense with this goal in mind.

To learn more about how Shaheen & Gordon, P.A. can assist you, contact a New Hampshire DWI lawyer at the firm today.

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