In New Hampshire, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is not always charged as a misdemeanor. There are some circumstances that could qualify as aggravated DWI. So what exactly makes a DWI aggravated? According to the New Hampshire Statutes § 265-A3, there are four major scenarios that could qualify a person for aggravated DWI charges.
First of all, DWI while also driving over 30mph over the speed limit is an aggravated DWI. This type of charge usually results from an officer pulling someone over for speeding. If law enforcement suspects intoxication, they may ask the driver to submit to a series of field sobriety tests like the one-leg stand. Drivers who fail these tests can be lawfully arrested and taken in for chemical testing (breath, blood or urine testing for blood alcohol content).
Second, drivers can be charged with aggravated DWI if their intoxication resulted in an accident and serious bodily injury. This is not the same as vehicular manslaughter. That is a separate offense according to the New Hampshire statutes. Accidents resulting in the serious bodily injury of a pedestrian or occupant of a vehicle involved in the crash can warrant an aggravated DWI.
Third, aggravated DWI charges can arise out of attempting to leave the scene and flee law enforcement. For example, if a law enforcement official suspects drunk driving and signals to a vehicle to pull to the side of the road, but the driver attempts to flee, they could be charged with aggravated DWI when apprehended. These charges cannot stand, however, if a chemical test does not indicate .08 percent or higher BAC. The driver would still likely face fleeing police charges.
Lastly, a driver could be charged with aggravated DWI for intoxicated driving with a passenger under the age of 16. Some drivers are also charged with aggravated DWI for intoxication levels of .16 percent or higher (double the legal limit).
Aggravated DWIs can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the nature of the offense. When it is charged as a class A misdemeanor, defendants could face a minimum imprisonment in county jail of 17 days as well as a minimum fine of $750. Additional penalties would likely include the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) and license suspension/revocation. Aggravated DWIs charged as class B felonies will warrant a minimum $1,000 fine and minimum imprisonment in county jail for 35 days. The same IID and license revocation penalties would apply.
In many cases, our New Hampshire DWI lawyers are able to get aggravated DWI charges reduced to regular DWI, reckless driving or even dismissed completely. To further understand your charges as well as the defenses available to you, contact Shaheen & Gordon for a free consultation today!