DUI & DWI in New Hampshire
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Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious traffic violation. The New Hampshire Department of Safety (DOS), Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and all law enforcement stress the problem by issuing severe consequences for DWI.
The tests used to assess your DWI condition may be different but the consequences and disciplinary procedures are the same.
Your own common sense tells you that driving after you have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs is unsafe. Yet 25,000 people in America die every year from drug or alcohol related accidents. If you don't get stopped and you are drunk you are still DWI, it just means you haven't been convicted for it.
Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is important to consider, as well as how you feel and when you decide to drive. Some people will tell you they don't drive if they have had just one drink. Alcohol is a substance that affects everyone differently; but you can be sure that we all suffer when it comes to our reaction time, alertness, and defensive driving skills.
Being convicted for DWI in New Hampshire doesn't mean you'll never have a driver's license again. Like all traffic violations the DMV Point System plays a role in what happens to your license. Other factors relating to your arrest will influence your case as well as your driving record.
When you are stopped by a police officer or state trooper, they will tell you why they pulled you over. If you are being assessed for DWI (either roadside or back at the police station) they will offer you the sobriety tests, which include:
- Blood test
- Urine test
- Balance tests
When you accepted a New Hampshire driver's license you became subject to implied consent. This concept means that you already agree to take the sobriety tests. But don't worry, you still have the right to refuse the tests, even under the implied consent rule―you'll just automatically lose your license for 180 days.
Assuming you've taken and failed the sobriety tests, the officer will use the results to charge you with DWI. If your BAC is over .08 then you have surpassed the legal limit for driving. However, if your BAC is under .08 the officer can still arrest you for DWI if he or she believes your driving skills are influenced. The officer might think your driving skills are affected if you are:
- Driving too slow or too fast
- Running over the curb
- Straddling lanes
- Passing improperly
- Starting with a jerk
The rules for commercial drivers are more aggressive because the responsibility and risk when driving a big rig are usually greater than a regular Class D car, truck, or SUV. You should be very familiar with the FMCSA Rules regarding alcohol and commercial drivers.
As a commercial driver you can expect any trooper, DOT official, or police officer to be very upset if you have any alcohol in your blood. In fact, if you have .02 BAC you will be temporarily taken off the road. If your BAC reaches .04, half of what other drivers are subject to, your CDL will be suspended.
Though you have to be 21 to purchase or transport alcohol, some drivers are arrested for DWI who are not over 21 years old. The BAC rule for drivers under 21 years old is not .08 but .02.
Driving under the influence of drugs may not be as easily detected because there is no alcohol to be measured on your breath. However, the urine or blood test can be used to detect drug levels.
When you think about drugs and driving you need to consider over the counter medications or prescribed drugs that might influence your driving skills. Some cold medications, antidepressants, and other drugs will make you sleepy and decrease your reaction times.
Be conscious of what you are taking and make sure to read the warnings. Many drugs can hamper your safe driving habits; don't just think of illegal substances like marijuana or cocaine.
How long you lose your license depends on the nature of your arrest. If you were charged with aggravated DWI―extreme BAC, excessive speed, reckless driving, disobeying an officer―you will have a higher fine and a longer suspension.
DWI first offense involves a fine up to $1,000 and a license suspension anywhere from 90 days to two years. The length of suspension depends, again, on your driving record and the specifics of your arrest. You may also be required to take an Impaired Driver Program.
If you are charged with DWI a second time, then it is a misdemeanor and not a violation like the first offense. The state requires you to take an Alcohol Education Class at an approved treatment center. Second offense DWI is very costly:
- Fines up to $1,000
- Cost of approved treatment program
- Auto insurance premium for required SR-22
- Reinstatement fees
- Attorney costs
The penalties for DWI are different depending on what age group you fall into. The DMV Demerit Point System will be considered when you are convicted; you might already have points on your license which means you now have many more points and the suspension period could be longer.
Losing your license because of DWI can make it hard for you to get to work or school. You will need money to pay for the DWI costs and if you can't get to work on time or regularly then you will have trouble earning the money you need.
You always have the right to a hearing from the Bureau of Hearings. Applying for an appeal is a process that takes some time and because the Vehicle Code can be complicated you may want to hire an attorney. There are many good lawyers who specialize in DWI cases.
After the suspension period has passed, you've met all the requirements for auto insurance, and done any jail time or alcohol treatment, you can apply for reinstatement of your license.
The reinstatement procedure is the same as other DMV Point System violations; unless, of course, you are classified as a Habitual Offender. The Bureau of Financial Responsibility will help you get your through the reinstatement process.
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- Were You Drunk Driving? DUI and DWI Explained
- Find Out How Much DUI and DWI Convictions Really Cost
We put a lot of effort into making our content helpful & accurate. Please let us know if you see something that isn't clear or correct; we are here to ease any frustrations you may have while navigating DMV topics. We are not a government agency, please reach out to your local DMV, insurance agent, or respective professional for further assistance on specific situations.