Drunk Driving Defense Law in New Hampshire

An arrest for driving under the influence in New Hampshire means that you are now facing some severe penalties if you are convicted. Not only have you had to go through the traffic stop, field sobriety tests, being arrested, taking a breath test, and posting bond, but your driver’s license will also soon be suspended—even before a conviction.

An experienced, knowledgeable New Hampshire DWI defense attorney can provide advice during this difficult time and help you build a strong defense against the charges.

New Hampshire Drunk Driving Laws

New Hampshire law prohibits either driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while:

  • Under the influence of any alcohol, drug, or natural or synthetic substance that impairs a driver’s ability to drive or attempt to drive
  • Having a BAC of .08% or more, having a BAC of .04% or more for commercial drivers, or having a BAC of .02% or more for drivers under the age of 21

New Hampshire’s DWI laws specifically state that “actual physical control” does not include sleeping or resting in a vehicle parked in a legal place, so long as the person is not sitting in the driver’s seat.

Implied Consent: Yes

Enhanced Penalties: BAC of .16% or more; driving with a passenger under 16 years old; serious bodily injury or death; excessive speeding; prior convictions

All New Hampshire DWI convictions are eligible for penalties such as alcohol evaluations or treatment, community service, or installing an ignition interlock device (IID). However, other penalties depend on the number of prior convictions or aggravating factors that enhance these penalties.

  • A driver’s first offense is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by penalties such as a $500 to $1200 fine, a 9-month to 24-month license revocation, and completing an impaired driver intervention program prior to license reinstatement.
  • second or third offense as well as an aggravated offense are typically Class A misdemeanors, punishable by penalties such as a $750 to $2,000 fine, 17 days to one year of imprisonment, a three-year license suspension or permanent license revocation for habitual offenders​, and completing an impaired driver intervention program prior to license reinstatement.

Any subsequent offenses are considered felonies and come with steeper penalties and consequences for drivers.

Depending on how the charge is filed, you could be facing a misdemeanor or a felony offense for an aggravated DWI. For those facing a Class B Felony, the possible penalties include:

  • A fine of at least $1,000
  • At least 35 days in jail. Twenty-one of those days may, at the court’s discretion, be suspended
  • Installing an IID
  • Revocation of driving privileges for at least 18 months and up to two years
  • Random urinalysis may be required by the court

Defending Against a DWI in New Hampshire

Drivers arrested for drunk driving in New Hampshire have a chance of escaping the harshest penalties by avoiding a conviction. Your DWI defense attorney can investigate your case to show problems with the chemical tests or that the officer had lack of reasonable suspicion to stop a driver. In some cases, your lawyer can negotiate with the judge and prosecutor to reduce the DWI penalties.

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