The good news is that statistics on DWI reported by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) for 2007-2008, showed a 9.7% reduction in drunken driving fatalities in the United States. Early reports for 2009-2010 look more promising.

The bad news, according to the Century Council - an organization of distillers dedicated to fighting drunk drivers - is that even though total cases of DWI declined in that period, New Hampshire showed a 32.4% increase in DWI-caused fatalities. In 2007, 34 people died in alcohol related car crashes, and in 2008, there were 45 such deaths.

The worse news, according to this report, is that even though underage DWI deaths declined across the U.S. during 2007 and 2008, New Hampshire saw almost a 300% spike in deaths resulting from impaired drivers in the16- to 20-year-old population. This percentage is very misleading. New Hampshire is a small state (population of 1.3 million) and only 8 underage drivers and/or passengers died in 2008, and 3 in 2007. Still, statistics show trends and the public should take heed. Even one underage death is too many.

DWI Law in New Hampshire: Fines and Penalties

New Hampshire has been very proactive in trying to lower DWI-fatality rates. Following is just a sampling of the fines and penalties one can expect if caught driving while intoxicated.

  • First Offense -- $500 minimum fine plus 24% penalty totaling $620; suspended license for nine months; completion of impaired driver intervention program.
  • Second Offense (if within 2 years of previous DWI conviction) - $750 fine plus 24% penalty totaling $930; minimum of 30 days in jail; three-year minimum suspended license; 12-month period requiring ignition interlock device on vehicles.
  • Third Offense -- $750 minimum fine; minimum of 180 days in jail; 28-day minimum stay at a residential treatment program; license suspended indefinitely.

Punishment is greater if convicted of Aggravated DWI, such as driving 30 mph over the speed limit; causing an accident resulting in serious injury; attempting to flee a law enforcement officer; driving with a passenger 16 years or younger; or having a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .16 or higher.

Blood Alcohol Levels (BAC)

You are considered a DWI case if you have a BAC of .08 or higher; if you are under 21 with a BAC rate of .02 or higher; or if you driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04 or higher. It's difficult to know how many drinks you can have and still be under the legal limit, so don't drink if you know you are going to drive. If you arrested for DWI, however, you have certain rights. Call a DWI lawyer as soon as possible who has experience dealing with DWI laws in New Hampshire. You want an attorney that understands NH DWI laws inside and out; knows the technical aspects of the Intoxilyzer 5000 (a breathalyzer test), one who knows how to keep you out of jail, and one that can work to prevent your license suspension.