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DWI laws FAQ for New Hampshire

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FAQs About New Hampshire’s DWI Laws

In the state of New Hampshire, you can receive a DWI if you operate a motor vehicle with a BAC level of .08% or higher, regardless of whether or not your driving abilities are actually impaired. Here are a few of the most common questions we hear from clients:

1.      If I refuse to take a Breathalyzer test or a blood test, what are the consequences?

In New Hampshire, if you refuse to take a blood test or a Breathalyzer test, there are a variety of consequences you could face – depending upon whether it is your first, second, or third offense. For a first time refusal, your driver’s license will be suspended for 180 days. For a second refusal, your driver’s license will be suspended for two years, and for a third refusal, your license will also be revoked for two years.

2.      In New Hampshire, when are police officers required to measure your BAC levels?

In our state, law enforcement officials are generally supposed to measure your blood alcohol content at the time you are pulled over; however, it is possible for a prosecutor to prove you were intoxicated even if your BAC levels are measured at a later time.

3.      For motorists under 21 years of age, what are the maximum BAC levels allowed?

If you are under 21 years of age, the maximum BAC level that is allowed is .02%. Under New Hampshire’s drinking and driving laws, a person under 21 years of age is classified as a minor.

4.      What is the minimum amount of required jail time for a DWI in our state?

For a first offense DWI, there is no minimum required jail term. For a second offense that occurs within two years of the first offense, the minimum required term of incarceration is 37 days. If the second offense takes place within ten years of the first, the term is reduced to 10 days. For a third DWI offense, the minimum amount of required jail time you must serve is 180 days.

5.      In New Hampshire, how long will a prior DWI remain on my record?

For sentencing purposes, in the state of New Hampshire, a prior DWI conviction will remain on your record for ten years.

6.      In New Hampshire, can a DWI charge be pled down to a wet reckless?

Under specific circumstances, a New Hampshire prosecutor may choose to accept a plea bargain for a wet reckless charge. A wet reckless charge is legally defined as one count of driving recklessly that involves the consumption of alcohol. Wet reckless charges are generally made as a result of plea bargaining. This type of plea bargain will most commonly occur when the amount of alcohol you consumed is borderline illegal, no automobile accident occurred, and you have no prior criminal history. However, if you were to be arrested and charged with a subsequent DWI offense in New Hampshire, then your prior wet reckless charge will be classified as a drunk driving conviction. Your resulting sentence may become what is required for a second DWI conviction.

7.      If I am convicted of a DWI in New Hampshire, will I be required to use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?

In short, the answer is yes. State law requires that ignition interlock devices be installed in the vehicle of any defendant who has a second DWI conviction, drives during their period of license revocation, and for defendants who are convicted of an aggravated DWI.

8.      How many drinks can I have before I reach the legal limit?

This is a question we often hear from motorists who wish to know how many drinks they can have before they become legally classified as drunk. There are apps and online calculators and charts that can offer a rough estimate of how many drinks you can have before you reach the legal limit; however, such tools cannot predict with absolute certainty each individual’s impairment level. In the state of New Hampshire, you can be arrested on a DWI charge without reaching the legal limit of .08% if the police officer believes that you are much too intoxicated to operate an automobile.

9.      What are the penalties for a drunk driving conviction in New Hampshire?

The first time you are convicted of a DWI in New Hampshire, you will be required to pay a minimum monetary fine of $500.00. Your driver’s license can be suspended for a period ranging from nine months to two years. Once eligible, in order to have your driver’s license reinstated, you must successfully complete a state approved impaired motorist prevention program, which you will be required to pay for. A New Hampshire court may require you to undergo alcohol or drug treatment as well.

For a second DWI conviction in New Hampshire, you can expect to face a minimum mandatory jail sentence of 10 days. The monetary fine you must pay increases to $750.00, and your driving privileges will be suspended for a minimum of 3 years. To have your driver’s license reinstated after the suspension period is up, you must successfully complete a multiple DWI offender intervention program. These programs generally run an average of 7 days, and you must pay for it out of pocket. You may also be required to complete an alcohol or drug treatment program and be required to submit to random urinalysis tests that the court believes appropriate.

For a third or subsequent offense, your driving privileges will be revoked indefinitely and cannot be reinstated for a minimum period of 5 years. You will be required to serve a minimum of 180 days in the local county jail, which is followed by a 4 week stay at a residential treatment program for multiple DWI offenders. This program you must pay for yourself. Additional drug and/or alcohol treatment and counseling may be mandated by the court.

10.   Where can I find more information about New Hampshire’s DWI laws?

If you have been charged with a DWI in the state of New Hampshire or to learn more information about our state’s DWI laws, please contact one of our experienced NH DWI lawyers today. Your initial consultation is free.

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