New Bill May End DUI Checkpoints in New Hampshire

Sobriety checkpoints are the bane of many drivers. While a given checkpoint may result in a handful of DWI arrests, if any, it is largely regarded as a nuisance that takes time out of the evenings of sober, often embittered drivers. Debates have arisen over the legality of citizens forewarning each other about checkpoints, with the general consensus being that it is not illegal to post information about the location of a checkpoint or warn fellow drivers.

Law enforcement maintains that checkpoints serve as a deterrent to drunk driving, asserting that it defeats the purpose of a checkpoint if its location is widely known, because drivers can simply navigate to avoid it. Critics of the measure hold that checkpoints constitute unreasonable search and seizure; others point to the financial logistics as a reason to do away with checkpoints. Partially financed with federal money, the actual number of arrests resulting from checkpoints do not always justify the costs. Some have been quick to note that a driver has no duty beyond giving his or her driver’s license and registration when prompted. Some drivers have received some degree of media attention after placing their license and registration in a clear bag and hanging it outside the driver’s seat window for viewing by the police. This act is regarded as a potential “loophole” to the measure of drunk driving checkpoints.

DWI Checkpoints in New Hampshire

At present, police in New Hampshire are required to obtain a judge’s permission to hold a checkpoint. They must also publicize it, although these postings go largely unnoticed by the public, generally speaking. Checkpoints are usually held in the late evenings. Over the past few years, they have resulted in countless New Hampshire DWI arrests. A recent New Hampshire DWI checkpoint in 2017 yielded 10 arrests for suspected DUI in the area of Seabrook. Of the 61 people arrested at DWI checkpoints in 2016, 29 were charged with DUI.

A Bill to End DWI Checkpoints?

Now, five Republican state lawmakers have proposed a bill that may in effect do away with controversial DWI checkpoints. Brian Stone of Northwood; Michael Costable of Raymond; Larry Gagne of Manchester; Kevin Verville of Deerfield; and Scott Wallace of Danville sponsored House Bill 1283. After undergoing review in the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, the bill was approved in a 12-8 vote. It has yet to be officially passed into law and faces more rounds of scrutiny. As updates become available, they will be herein posted.

This proposed legislation comes on the heels of another bill that would make changes to New Hampshire’s existing DWI law. Republican state representative Dan Hynes sponsored a bill that would require warrants for police to conduct blood draws in DWI cases. Hynes holds that the existing standard under which police find cause to draw blood is too low, and believes the bill would tighten this loose end of the DWI process. The bill was opposed by house speaker Gene Chandler, who believes it could potentially obstruct officers’ endeavors to investigate a suspected DWI.

New Hampshire DWI Attorney

As lawmakers butt heads over various aspects of DWI law, one thing remains certain: expert legal representation could mean the difference between a clean record and a conviction. If you have been accused of driving under the influence in New Hampshire, hiring an attorney is the single most important step you will take in the fight against your charges. Do not hesitate to contact the legal team at Tenn And Tenn, P.A. for a free consultation.

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