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DWI – New Hampshire

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The legal limit for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in New Hampshire is a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08. A person with a BAC at or above this limit is considered legally impaired and may be charged under the statute for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. A BAC of greater than 0.08, however, is not the only way to be charged under the statute. You may also be charged with a DUI if you are found to be under the influence of drugs (including valid prescriptions), the combination of drugs and alcohol, or for a BAC lower than 0.08 if a law enforcement officer determines you to be incapable of driving safely. Be aware, some prescription drugs may alter your ability to drive and the fact that you have a valid prescription is not a defense to driving under the influence.

DWI Defenses:

In order to convict you of DWI, the State is required to show that you were intoxicated at the time you were operating your vehicle. The State typically has two types of evidence against you.  The first is your performance on field sobriety tests.  The second is your blood alcohol content (BAC) as measured either by a breath or blood sample.  There are several ways to challenge the admissibility and accuracy of the State’s evidence.  An experienced DWI attorney can uncover where the State will have problems using this evidence against you.

Blood Alcohol Results

The results of the BAC test may be challenged in several ways.  Depending on the manner in which the test is given and the relevant time frame, an experienced DWI attorney can uncover weaknesses in the State’s case. Speak to an attorney at Burke Law to see what we can do for you.

Unlawful Stops by Law Enforcement

Both the United States and Vermont Constitutions protect your right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.  In the DWI context, this prevents law enforcement from stopping you without a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a crime is being committed or that a traffic violation has occurred.  If law enforcement does not have a proper reason for stopping you or ordering you out of your vehicle for field sobriety exercises, the evidence gathered as a result may be suppressed.  Suppressed evidence cannot be used against you in court and will weaken the State’s case.

Expert Witness Testimony

In many cases the State’s evidence may need to be challenged via the use of an expert witness.  In cases where the State relies on the results of the breath or blood test to determine the driver’s BAC at the time of operation, the expert testimony of an expert toxicologist may aid your defense.  It is important that your attorney understand the nuances of every case and whether an expert witness will help your DWI defense.

Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety tests are used by the police in order to establish probable cause for an arrest, and to gather evidence that can be used against you in court.  There are a number of field sobriety tests that the police may use.  An experienced DWI attorney can challenge the validity of the results in court by cross-examination of the law enforcement officer.

DWI Penalties:

First Offense:

  • Guilty of class B misdemeanor;
  • Fined not less than $500;
  • Will be referred by the Court to an Impaired Driver Care Management Program (IDCMP) where you will be required to submit to an alcohol and drug abuse screening. If the screening demonstrates the likelihood of a substance abuse disorder, you must submit to a full substance abuse disorder evaluation. Thereafter, you must follow the plan developed by the IDCMP;
  • Required to pay all fees from the IDCMP;
  • Your drivers license shall be revoked for not less than 9 months and not more than 2 years at the discretion of the court;
  • You may be required to submit random urinalysis or other tests the Court deems appropriate;
  • After one year, your conviction may be reduced to a violation by filing a motion with the Court. In considering the motion the Court may take into account your subsequent driving record, the recommendations of the IDCMP, the hardship a criminal record may cause, and any other factors the court deems relevant.
  • Second Offense (previous conviction within last 2 years):
  • Guilty of a class A misdemeanor;
  • Fine of not less than $750;
  • Mandatory sentence of not less than 60 consecutive days in the county correctional facility, of which 30 days shall be suspended. A condition of the suspended suspension is that you shall schedule a substance use disorder evaluation within 30 days of release with the Impaired Driver Care Management Program (IDCMP), complete the evaluation within 60 days of release, and comply with the service plan developed. If you do not comply with the IDCMP requirements, the Court may impose any portion of the suspended sentence.
  • Second Offense (previous conviction more than 2 years ago, but less than 10 years ago):
  • Guilty of class A misdemeanor;
  • Fine of not less than $750;
  • Mandatory sentence of not less than 17 consecutive days in the county correctional facility, of which 12 days shall be suspended. A condition of the suspended suspension is that you shall schedule a substance use disorder evaluation within 30 days of release with the Impaired Driver Care Management Program (IDCMP), complete the evaluation within 60 days of release, and comply with the service plan developed. If you do not comply with the IDCMP requirements, the Court may impose any portion of the suspended sentence;
  • Loss of license for not less than 3 years (subject to completion of IDCMP plan and payment of all fees).
  • Third Offense:
  • Guilty of class A misdemeanor;
  • Fine of not less than $750;
  • Indefinite revocation of driver’s license with a minimum of 5 year loss of driving privileges;
  • Mandatory sentence of not less than 180 consecutive days in the county correctional facility, of which 150 days shall be suspended. A condition of the suspended suspension is that you shall schedule a substance use disorder evaluation within 30 days of release with the Impaired Driver Care Management Program (IDCMP), complete the evaluation within 60 days of release, and comply with the service plan developed. If you do not comply with the IDCMP requirements, the Court may impose any portion of the suspended sentence.
  • Fourth or Subsequent Offense:
  • Guilty of a felony;
  • Subject to any and all penalties for a second or third offense;
  • Indefinite revocation of driver’s license and you may not apply for reinstatement for a minimum of 7 years.
  • Additional enhanced penalties may also be charged if your BAC is greater than 0.16, injury or death results from an accident involving DWI, or if you have minor children in the car at the time of the offense. In New Hampshire, you may be charged with an Aggravated DWI in these types of cases. Every case is unique and you should seek legal advice prior to making any statements to the police or accepting any plea offers from the district attorney’s office.Important Resources:
    IDCMP information from NH Health and Human Services
    IDCMP Locations