New Hampshire's Aggravated DWI Laws

Mark L. Stevens

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DUI / DWI Attorney - Salem, NH

Contributor Level 11

Posted over 4 years ago. Applies to New Hampshire, 3 helpful votes

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Today's New Hampshire DWI laws topic is the irony of the New Hampshire "aggravated DWI" penalties for a 1st offense. On a 1st offense New Hampshire DWI, with no "aggravating factors", a driver that gets convicted faces a lengthy license loss, a criminal record, a large fine, a huge increase in insurance costs, and being forced into an alcohol program. If the driver chooses for some reason to cooperate with the police and blow into the breath testing hose at the police station, she may face jail time. In New Hampshire if a driver arrested for DWI opts to blow into the breath machine at the police station, she risks going to jail. It is as simple as that. If the breath test box says the driver blew a .16 or higher, she gets packed off to jail if she is convicted. If she refuses to put her fate and freedom into one of these boxes, she does not go to jail, even upon conviction. The question is, who in their right mind would make the choice to blow into one of these old machines? They look like old gray boxes with a rubber hose attached to one side and a bubbling jar of alcohol on the other. Would you knowingly risk your freedom by blowing into a box in a police station? The weirdness of this aspect of New Hampshire DWI law does not end with the fact that first offenders go to jail based entirely on their decision to cooperate and give a breath sample. In addition to going to jail because she cooperated and blew into the breath gadget, her license loss will probably be twice as long as if she simply exercised her right to refuse the breath test. If she blows into the box and the box says a .16 or higher, she will be forced to go to a "multiple DWI offender program", even if she has never been convicted of DWI before or attended a first offender program. Drivers considering whether to take a breath test after a first offense New Hampshire DWI arrest should carefully consider the fact that they may go to jail if they blow. A copy of New Hampshire's DWI first offense and Aggravated DWI first offense penalties are listed below. New Hampshire RSA 265-A:18 Penalties for Intoxication or Under Influence of Drugs Offenses. I. Except as otherwise provided in this section: (a) Any person who is convicted of any offense under RSA 265-A:2, I shall be: (1) Guilty of a class B misdemeanor; (2) Fined not less than $500; (3) Required to furnish proof of successful completion of an impaired driver intervention program prior to the restoration of the person's driver's license or privilege to drive, provided that, if the person has previously completed, or been required by a court or the department of safety to complete, an impaired driver intervention program (I.D.I.P.) or any similar program in any jurisdiction, the person shall be required to furnish proof of successful completion of the multiple DWI offender intervention detention center program (M.O.P.) or an equivalent 7-day residential intervention program approved by the commissioner of health and human services; (4) The person's driver's license or privilege to drive shall be revoked for not less than 9 months and, at the discretion of the court, such revocation may be extended for a period not to exceed 2 years. The court may suspend up to 6 months of this sentence, provided that the person has entered into the relevant driver intervention program required by sub-paragraph (3) within 45 days after conviction, or as soon thereafter as any extenuating circumstances approved by the department of health and human services allow; (5) The sentencing court may sentence the person to additional alcohol and/or drug treatment and counseling, or to a treatment program approved by the commissioner of health and human services, or both. In addition, the court may require the person to submit to random urinalysis or such other tests as the court may deem appropriate; and (6) The court in which the person was convicted may reduce the conviction to a violation upon a motion filed by either party at least one year after the date of the conviction. In deciding whether to reduce the conviction to a violation, the court may consider the person's subsequent driving record, any evidence of drug or alcohol treatment, the hardship that having a criminal record may cause for the person, and any other factors that the court deems relevant. (b) Any person who is convicted of any aggravated DWI offense under RSA 265-A:3, except as provided in sub-paragraph (c), shall be: (1) Guilty of a class A misdemeanor; (2) Fined not less than $750; (3) Sentenced to a mandatory sentence of not less than 10 consecutive days of which 3 consecutive 24-hour periods shall be served in the county correctional facility and 7 consecutive 24-hour periods shall be served at the state-operated 7-day multiple DWI offender intervention detention center established under RSA 265-A:40, which sentence shall begin no later than 21 days after conviction. In the event that the state-operated 7-day multiple DWI offender intervention detention center has no available space, the person shall be assigned to an equivalent 7-day residential intervention program approved by the commissioner of health and human services. The person shall begin following any treatment recommendations arising out of the final evaluation given to the person at the multiple DWI offender intervention detention center or equivalent program within 60 days after the person has completed serving the required 7 consecutive 24-hour periods or such other time as the court may order; (4) The person's driver's license or privilege to drive shall be revoked for not less than 18 months and, at the discretion of the court, such revocation may be extended for a period not to exceed 2 years. Except for good cause found by the court and noted in writing, the court may suspend up to 6 months of this sentence, provided that the person has entered into the relevant driver intervention program required by sub-paragraph (3) as soon as any circumstances approved by the department of health of human services allow; (5) The sentencing court may sentence the person to additional alcohol and/or drug treatment and counseling, or to a treatment program approved by the commissioner of health and human services, or both. In addition, the court may require the person to submit to random urinalysis or such other test as the court may deem appropriate; and (6) A person who leaves the relevant driver intervention program required by sub-paragraph IV(a)(3) before completion and fails to return and complete it as soon as extenuating circumstances approved by the department of health and human services allow or who fails to begin following treatment recommendations within the time required by sub-paragraph IV(a)(3) shall be in contempt of court and shall serve a minimum of 14 days in the county correctional facility.

Additional Resources

New Hampshire DWI Laws by Mark Stevens

NH DWI Lawyer Mark Stevens' YouTube Channel

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