Understanding the DWI Process in New Hampshire
Legal Assistance from a New Hampshire DWI Attorney
If you have been arrested and charged for driving while intoxicated (DWI), it is important to understand the DWI process. A New Hampshire DWI lawyer with years of experience can help you understand the DWI law and procedure that is covered under Title XXI Motor Vehicles §265-A:2. According to New Hampshire DWI laws, it is a crime for any person to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance.
The Police Stop
DWI investigations occur in phases and begin even before a motor vehicle stop where the officer is looking for clues consistent with driver impairment. Where there is reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime or other motor vehicle offense, a police officer or trooper may stop your vehicle. They are trained to observe clues for impairment during the "stopping sequence" of the case and as you pull to the side of the road.
When an officer makes first contact with you, they continue to build their case, making observations of:
- Odor of alcohol
- Blood shot and glassy eyes
- Slow, slurred or deliberate speech.
An officer will typically ask you if you have had something to drink or whether you have been using drugs. They also conduct a divided attention test, where they ask you to do two things at once, such as retrieve your license and motor vehicle registration, making observations of your ability to do so.
The Field Sobriety Test
Where there is suspicion to continue the investigation, police officers ask that you step from the vehicle to conduct Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs), making observations of you as you exist the vehicle. On the roadside, officers often conduct three standardized field sobriety tests as well as other tests that our defense lawyers see from time to time.
These tests include:
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN)
- The Nine Step Walk and Turn Test (WAT)
- The One Leg Stand Test (OLS).
Police officers are trained to observe specific clues for impairment during each of these tests. In addition to these tests, New Hampshire law enforcement occasionally asks a suspect to submit to a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) on the roadside. Based on performance on these and other tests, law enforcement build probable cause to base an arrest for DWI.
Following a DWI arrest, you are transported to the police station or state police barrack where the officer reviews the administrative license suspension process with you.
You then have a decision regarding whether to submit to a breath, blood, urine, or additional physical tests or whether to refuse those tests. The officer has discretion in New Hampshire regarding which of these tests to request. A refusal of the test or submitting to a test with a result exceeding the per se limit will trigger an administrative license suspension of 180 days for a first offense and 2 years for a second offense. The per se limit is 0.08 for drivers over the age of 21 or 0.02 for drivers under the age of 21.
Additionally, you will likely be charged with the criminal offense of DWI, Aggravated DWI or Subsequent Offense DWI, depending on the circumstances of your case and your prior record. You will be given bail paperwork identifying a first court hearing or an arraignment. You will also typically be given an administrative license suspension form which acts as your temporary privilege to drive. However, that temporary privilege to drive is good for only 30 days. Within that 30-day period, you have the right to request an administrative hearing from the Department of Safety in order to contest the administrative license suspension. You must also determine how best to defend the criminal charge of DWI in court.
Former Prosecutors & Seasoned Criminal Defense Lawyers On Your Side
Our include former prosecutors who defend drunk driving cases week in and week out in court and in administrative hearings. They have been trained regarding DWI investigations, Field Sobriety Testing, and trial advocacy and apply that training to defending their cases throughout the DWI court process. They are proud of their results, regularly avoiding long term license losses, criminal convictions and even jail for their clients. They try their cases when necessary and regularly win them.
If you are facing DWI charges, contact our firm to speak with a New Hampshire DWI attorney.
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