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Habitual Offender

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New Hampshire Habitual DWI Offender

NH DWI Lawyer for Multiple DWI Offenses

New Hampshire has a stiff Habitual Offender statute, calling for long-term administrative license losses following multiple motor vehicle convictions and certification as a habitual offender. Furthermore, operating a motor vehicle after certification as a Habitual Offender results in a required jail sentence. A careful understanding of habitual offender consequences is critical when representing our DWI and motor vehicle clients in light of the impact of a long-term license loss and exposure to jail or prison time on employment and family obligations. Our motor vehicle attorneys measure concerns for habitual offender consequences every time that they recommend a plea or trial to a client in a motor vehicle case.

Defending Against Operation After Habitual Offender Suspension Charges

When clients come to us facing charges for operating after a habitual offender suspension, our attorneys appreciate the nuanced defenses and sentencing options available under the Habitual Offender statute and defend such cases head on with the goal of mitigating State demands for stand committed jail and prison time.

Explaining the Basics of the Habitual Offender Statute

New Hampshire is one of the strictest states when it comes to repeat DWI offenders. In fact, New Hampshire license suspensions are among the most severe in the nation, even implementing mandatory jail time. Because the consequences of being labeled a “habitual offender” are severe, it is incredibly important that your attorney understands the statutes. Shaheen & Gordon's New Hampshire DWI lawyers have extensive experience dealing with driving while intoxicated cases and can fight to help you avoid habitual offender status.

Who exactly is considered a habitual offender? Is everyone who is arrested for their second or subsequent DWI given this title? New Hampshire has a five-year look back period when it comes to motor vehicle offenses that involve drugs or alcohol. The following circumstances, should they take place within a five-year time span, could warrant habitual offender status:

  • Three severe moving violations, or;
  • Two severe and four minor, or;
  • One severe and eight minor, or;
  • 12 severe violations.

Here, it is important to note the distinction between severe/major motor vehicle offenses and minor ones. New Hampshire has categorized them as follows:

Major Offenses:

  • Any DWI offense
  • Reckless Driving
  • Negligent Driving
  • Operating a motor vehicle while license suspended
  • Disobeying the orders of a police officer

Minor Offenses:

  • Driving without a license
  • Speeding
  • Failure to yield, and offenses of a similar nature.

Once a person is labeled as a habitual offender, then they face the penalty of prolonged driver's license suspension. Habitual offender status is handled by the New Hampshire Department of Safety (DPS). DPS will notify an individual after their qualifying subsequent offense to say that there is an opportunity to dispute the habitual offender status. If the individual so chooses, they can contest this status with DPS. While it is not necessary to hire an attorney at this point, it can be exceedingly helpful.

Whether you are trying to get your driving privileges restored or attempting to appeal habitual offender status, Shaheen & Gordon, P.A. can guide you through the process so that you can see the best possible outcome for your case. We understand that being labeled a habitual offender can be tremendously difficult. New Hampshire is one of the few states that does not allow an individual to petition for a hardship license or some other type of restricted license. This leaves the person with few options when it comes to getting from point A to point B. Not only can this be inconvenient, it can also be costly when you factor in the cost of public transportation. If you would like to learn more about habitual offender status in New Hampshire and how our DWI attorneys may be able to assist, please contact our firm today.

Guiding Clients Through the Certification Process

Where habitual offender certifications do result, we believe it our obligation to assist our clients through the process, often appearing at certification and decertification hearings in order to secure the best possible results for our clients. We gather background, family and mitigating information from our clients in order to press for the minimum possible license loss at administrative hearings. In other cases, we challenge underlying convictions in order to contest Habitual Offender certification in the first place.

Considering Habitual Offender Consequences in Defense Strategies

Our clients come to us facing a wide range of motor vehicle violations, ranging from DWI to Reckless Operation to a simple speed violation. Defending these cases effectively means taking the time to understand the collateral consequence that may flow from a motor vehicle conviction. We work with our clients to review their motor vehicle record and then shape our strategy to account for any habitual offender concerns. For example, a straightforward DWI defense can become far more complicated where a conviction may also result in certification as a habitual offender and a long term license loss. When a new conviction may result in Habitual Offender certification, the likelihood of trying the case is higher. When we try our cases, we do so aggressively. Our DWI and motor vehicle lawyers achieve outstanding results in trial, having secured Not Guilty verdicts in District and Circuit courts throughout the State.

Defense Tactics for Operation After Habitual Offender Certification

Charges for operation after certification as a Habitual Offender often surface in difficult situations. With no hardship license available in New Hampshire and few options for public transportation, clients often come to us with charges for operation after certification as a Habitual Offender after a simple motor vehicle stop while trying to get to work. The consequences can be grave. A conviction for operating a motor vehicle after certification as a Habitual Offender is typically a felony and results in imprisonment for not less than one year and no more than 5 years.

However, the statute supplies some defenses and mechanisms to mitigate this harsh sentence. A defense exists where the decision to drive was necessitated by extreme emergency. Similarly, sentences of 12 months or less may be served at the house of correction and a Defendant may be eligible for administrative home confinement after serving just 14 days in prison. Finally, where the underlying convictions which lead to certification as a habitual offender were non-criminal and did not include a DWI, then the case is treated as a Misdemeanor and the minimum mandatory jail term does not apply. Our criminal defense attorneys understand the ins and outs of this statute and regularly apply the law to secure the best possible results for our clients.

Negotiation Strategies and Trial Preparation

The art of negotiation is critical in such cases. Our criminal lawyers have proposed a variety of creative alternative sentencing ideas to prosecutors with regular success in our Habitual Offender cases. In some cases, our lawyers have convinced the State to forego a Felony conviction for operation after certification as a Habitual Offender in favor of a less serious Misdemeanor offense for a simple Operating After Suspension charge, resulting in little or no jail time. Where diplomacy fails, our attorneys aggressively prepare for trial, examining carefully the State’s case. The State bears the burden of proof in any criminal case, and habitual offender violations are no different.

The State must prove three elements:

  1. that a habitual offender order barring the defendant from driving a motor vehicle was in force;
  2. that the defendant drove a motor vehicle on the ways of this state while that order remained in effect and;
  3. that the defendant did so with knowledge of his status as habitual offender.

Defenses exist in any of these three elements. Dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles can be a challenge and, at times, confusing. It has occurred that errors at the Department of Motor Vehicles create the incorrect impression that a Habitual Offender Certification had expired, permitting the defense to call into question whether a Defendant knew that he or she was operating after a Habitual Offender certification. In other instances, it is a challenge for the State to establish the element of operation. No matter the circumstances, our criminal attorneys review the facts, apply the law and zealously try their cases.

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    Keene District Court

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    Goffstown District Court

  • DWI Charges Dropped

    Lancaster District Court

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    Concord District Court

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