If you are pulled over by a police officer for suspicion of drunk driving in New Hampshire, you can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). However, the charge that you face could be a misdemeanor DWI or a felony DWI, which are more serious in terms of accusations and potential penalties. What does it take to be charged with a felony DWI in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire law can escalate a DWI charge to a felony in these situations:
- Fourth DWI or more: The first three times someone is charged and convicted of a DWI in New Hampshire, the charges are likely to be misdemeanors. The fourth DWI conviction within 10 years, though, will escalate to a felony DWI. The same is true for any DWI after the fourth. DWI penalties for a fourth-time DWI conviction can include up to $10,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison.
- Serious injury: If a DWI defendant caused an accident that left someone else seriously injured, then the charge can be escalated to an aggravated DWI, which is a felony in New Hampshire. As a class B felony, aggravated DWI convictions can include up to 3 1 /2 to 7 years at the New Hampshire State Prison, hefty fines, a license revocation of at least 18 months and a requirement to install an ignition interlock into your vehicle.
- Death: If a DWI defendant caused an accident that resulted in someone else’s death, then the charges can include an aggravated DWI and negligent homicide, both of which are felony charges. A class A felony for negligent homicide can penalize the defendant with up to 15 years in prison, up to $4,000 in fines, and an indefinite license suspension. Although, a suspended license can be reinstated after 7 years in some cases.
Why are Felony DWIs Worse?
A felony DWI is far more than a than a misdemeanor DWI because of the exposure to jail or prison sentences and impact of a felony criminal conviction on personal and professional matters. Felony convictions will also typically require steeper fines and longer license suspensions in most situations.
It can also be much more difficult to have a felony DWI conviction annulled from your criminal record, too. Annulment in New Hampshire allows you to effectively hide knowledge of a conviction from outside interested parties like potential employers or lenders. If you are worried about what a criminal record could do to your day-to-day life, then you need to double your efforts to fight a felony DWI charge.
Legal Help After a Felony DWI Arrest
Shaheen & Gordon, P.A. and our team of exceptional felony DWI attorneys can fight for clients across New Hampshire. If you were arrested for a felony DWI involving numerous prior convictions, serious injury, or death, then we are up to the challenge to protect your rights, driving privileges, and name. We take a comprehensive approach to defense, often challenging the State’s ability to establish impairment, serious bodily injury and a range of other elements that the State bears to the burden to prove. The defense of impaired driving cases involves a blend of courtroom advocacy and experience confronting scientific issues that are common in such cases, including blood and breath testing and issues relating to medical records and information.
Find out more about our legal services and defense strategies against a New Hampshire felony DWI by calling us at (888) 801-9916, or by filling out an online contact form. Please act quickly.