An individual arrested in New Hampshire for driving under the influence of alcohol, otherwise known as DUI or DWI, faces complicated procedures and potentially severe punishment. Many individuals feel as though they have no option but to plead guilty to the charge and to endure the punishment levied by a court of law. We offer the following frequently asked questions to assist individuals who have been charged with DUI or DWI in New Hampshire.
Q: What should I do immediately after being stopped for DUI?
A: First and foremost, remain calm. Provide your license and registration, turn down your radio and roll down your window to greet the officer when he/she approaches. Stay calm, be polite, and try to answer any questions directly and responsively.
Q: I thought I had the right not to incriminate myself, doesn't that include not submitting to breath testing?
A: New Hampshire is known as an "implied consent" state. This means that when you drive a vehicle on a public way, you are giving the State of New Hampshire permission, or consent, to drug or alcohol testing if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse to perform a task or tests requested by a law enforcement officer, you will automatically lose your license in New Hampshire, known as an Administrative License Suspension.
Q: What is the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in New Hampshire?
A: New Hampshire defines legal impairment as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08% if over the age of twenty-one (21), or .02% or greater if under the age of twenty-one (21). A driver with a CDL license is deemed impaired if he/she has an alcohol concentration of .04% or more.
Q: What should I do with the plastic bag that contains the sample tubes of my breath?
A: Do not open the plastic bag under any circumstances. Place the sealed bag in a safe place until you meet with your lawyer. This bag contains a "second sample" of the breath sample that you submitted at the time of your arrest. In most cases, your DWI defense lawyer will forward your second sample to a certified laboratory for independent testing.
Q: Do the police have to give me Miranda warnings?
A: New Hampshire law requires the police to provide Miranda warnings prior to post-arrest custodial interrogation. Generally speaking, there is no need to give Miranda warnings in connection with roadside questioning during the officer's initial investigation into a potential DWI. This means, that Miranda warnings are frequently not given, nor required in DWI cases until such time as the driver is actually arrested.
Q: I live out-of-state. Will I be able to drive in my home state if I lose my privilege to drive in New Hampshire?
A: New Hampshire can only revoke or suspend your license in New Hampshire. However, almost all states participate in the interstate compact that requires them to suspend the license of an individual who has lost their driving privileges in another state. Therefore, the state in which your driver license was issued will most probably suspend your license and you will not be illegible for reinstatement until your privileges to drive in New Hampshire have been restored. In some instances, your home state may also choose to impose an additional period of suspension or revocation for a New Hampshire DWI conviction or Administrative License Suspension.
Q: What happens if I am caught driving after my license is suspended or revoked?
A: Driving after suspension or revocation is a serious crime that can subject you to extended periods of license loss and incarceration.
Q: What are the penalties for first offense DWI in New Hampshire?
A: A driver who is convicted of DWI (first offense) is subject to the following penalties:
- A minimum ninety (90) day actual loss of license and a maximum two (2) year loss of license. If the driver was under twenty-one (21), the minimum period of license loss is one (1) year.
- A fine between $500 and $1,200, plus a 24% penalty assessment.
- A twenty (20) hour Impaired Driver Intervention Program at a cost of approximately $600. For all drivers, the minimum period of license revocation is actually nine (9) months; but, the court can allow the driver to petition for reinstatement after ninety (90) days (unless he/she was under twenty-one (21) at the time of the offense) if the Impaired Driver Intervention Program has been enrolled in within forty-five (45) days of conviction. First offense DWI is a Class B Misdemeanor. However, one (1) year after conviction, the driver may ask the court to reduce the misdemeanor offense to a Violation.
Also, as explained below, a driver charged with DWI in New Hampshire may be subject to an additional Administrative License Suspension ("ALS") for:
- Refusing to submit to a post-arrest sobriety test or alcohol concentration test; or
- Submitting to a post-arrest alcohol concentration test that discloses an alcohol concentration of greater than 0.08%, or 0.02% if under the age of twenty-one (21).
The ALS is for an automatic six (6) months if the driver has no prior DWI's or post-arrest test refusals. The ALS is for an automatic two (2) years if the driver has a prior DWI or a prior post-arrest test refusal. If the ALS is for a refusal it runs consecutive to (e.g., in addition to) any court imposed suspension or revocation. If the ALS is for an alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater, it will run concurrent (at the same time) with the court imposed revocation.
Thus, the combined DWI/ALS minimum actual loss of license for first offense DWI and refusing to submit to a post-arrest alcohol concentration test is nine (9) months. If there was a prior refusal or a prior DWI on the driver's record, the combined minimum actual loss of license is twenty-seven (27) months.
The combined DWI/ALS minimum actual loss of license for first offense DWI and taking a post-arrest test that reveals an alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater is six (6) months. If there was a prior refusal or a prior DWI on the driver's record, the combined minimum actual loss of license is two (2) years.
The ALS will be automatic unless the driver requests an administrative hearing within thirty (30) days of arrest, or from receipt of the blood test results. Therefore, any driver with grounds to challenge the ALS should request a hearing and request the presence of the relevant officers immediately.
New Hampshire law provides for increased penalties for repeat offenders and for DWI's committed when:
- There is a passenger under sixteen (16);
- The driver was going more than thirty (30) miles over the posted speed limit;
- The driver had an alcohol concentration of .16% or greater;
- The driver attempted to elude pursuit by law enforcement; and
- The driver caused a motor vehicle collision resulting in death or serious bodily injury.
Q: What are the penalties for Aggravated DWI and DWI, Subsequent Offense?
A: If the Complaint alleges that the driver has been convicted of a previous DWI offense (in any jurisdiction) within the past ten (10) years, there is:
- A mandatory jail sentence;
- Mandatory residential treatment at the driver's expense; and
- A mandatory loss of license of at least three (3) years.
If the complaint alleges a second offense and the prior conviction is within the last two (2) years, the driver is facing:
- A mandatory minimum thirty (30) days in jail and a maximum sentence of one (1) year in jail;
- Seven (7) days at the New Hampshire DWI Multiple Offender Intervention Detention Program ("MOP") at a cost of approximately $1,200, to commence immediately upon release from jail; and
- A mandatory three (3) year loss of license; and
- A fine between $750 and $2,000 plus a 24% penalty assessment.
If the second offense occurred more than two (2) years before the date of the new offense, the mandatory jail sentence is only three (3) days, but other sentencing provisions are identical.
If the Complaint alleges a prior DWI offense within the past ten (10) years and a total of two (2) prior DWI offenses altogether, the driver is facing:
- Six (6) months to one (1) year in jail;
- A twenty-eight (28) day residential treatment program to be completed at the driver's expense;
- A mandatory minimum five (5) year loss of license; and
- A fine between $750 and $2,000 plus a 24% penalty assessment.
A driver with a prior DWI offense within the past ten (10) years and a total of three (3) prior DWI offenses altogether may be prosecuted for a Class B Felony and sent to the New Hampshire State Prison for a maximum of 3 1/2 to 7 years. In addition the driver will need to successfully complete a twenty-eight (28) day residential treatment program at his own expense and cannot have his license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle in New Hampshire restored for seven (7) years.
If you have been charged with a DWI in New Hampshire, contact a skilled NH DWI lawyer at Tenn And Tenn.