Green Vehicle Laws and Regulations in New Hampshire

New Hampshire enlists the following green vehicle-related laws to help protect the environment and improve air quality. These include emissions test requirements (with exemptions for electric vehicles), idling reduction laws, neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) driving restrictions, and more. Read on for specifics.

NH Emissions Tests and Annual Safety Inspections

Fuel-efficient vehicles such as hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles require an emissions test. The only exception is electric vehicles, which are exempt. However, regardless of how green your vehicle might be, it likely still must undergo an annual safety inspection to maintain valid NH vehicle registration.

Specifically, New Hampshire requires On-Board Diagnostics (OBDII) testing as part of its annual safety inspection for the following vehicles (with a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,500 pounds and less):

  • Gasoline-powered, light-duty vehicles (model-year 1996 and newer).
  • Diesel-powered passenger vehicles (model-year 1997 and newer).

For more info, consult the New Hampshire OBD & Safety Testing Program (NHOST) and our page on smog checks and inspections.

New Hampshire Idling Restrictions

New Hampshire recognizes that idling needlessly burns fuel, harms our health, and contributes to climate change. Therefore, it’s enacted laws to reduce idling, with particular focus on diesel-powered trucks, buses, and off-road equipment. To read more on the negative effects of idling, check out the online resource of the NH Department of Environmental Services (DES). For more on idling restrictions, keep reading.

NH Laws to Reduce Idling

New Hampshire restricts the amount of time drivers can idle their engines. It bases these maximum idling time restrictions on the following outside temperatures:

  • Above 32º Fahrenheit—5 minutes.
  • Between –10º and 32º Fahrenheit—15 minutes.
  • Below –10º Fahrenheit—zero limit.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. These exemptions include:

  • Being stuck in traffic.
  • Emergency vehicles.
  • Vehicles that provide power take-off (PTO) for refrigeration or lift gate pumps.
  • Vehicles that keep passengers either warm or cool during transportation.

For full details, consult the New Hampshire DES.

School Bus Anti-Idling Initiative

Idling is particularly harmful to children, as their respiratory systems lack full development. When exposed to the particulate matter in diesel exhaust, the chances of developing childhood diseases—specifically asthma—increase. Therefore, NH enacted a law requiring school districts to create a policy around this issue. To reduce the amount of exhaust emissions, the districts must address the following vehicles that frequent their campuses:

  • Buses.
  • Cars.
  • Delivery vehicles.
  • Maintenance vehicles.
  • Other vehicles used for transportation.

Learn more about this law for air quality in schools and the voluntary initiative to reduce school bus exhaust for the sake of school children and bus drivers.

Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) Driving Restrictions

New Hampshire prohibits drivers from taking neighborhood electric vehicles on roads with a posted speed limit greater than 35 miles per hour (mph)—unless crossing the intersection of a road with a faster speed limit.

What is a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle

New Hampshire defines a neighborhood electric vehicle as a vehicle:

  • Powered by electricity.
  • Having four wheels.
  • With a maximum speed between 20 and 25 mph.

Additionally, an NEV must be equipped in accordance with Title 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, section 571.500. Learn more about NEV equipment requirements such as turn signal lamps, parking breaks, and seat belts.

Keep Up with Current New Hampshire Green Vehicle Laws

New Hampshire's green vehicle laws and eco-friendly driver incentives are subject to change. For example, it recently established one committee just to study the taxation of electric cars, hybrid-electric vehicles, and alternative fuel vehicles (for highway- and bridge-improvement funding purposes), and another to study low-speed utility vehicle access to public highways. New laws could be on the horizon.

Keep pace with the latest NH green vehicle regulation by referencing this page, consulting your local New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) branch, and referencing the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

Find a Nearby New Hampshire Emissions Testing Station

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