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New Hampshire DUI Laws

New Hampshire law relating to impaired driving is extensive.  These laws can be found in Chapter 265-A of Title XXI of the New Hampshire Revised Statutes, which can be found online at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/indexes/default.html .  These laws relate to the operation of motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, commercial vehicles, and boats.  Chapter 265-A also outlines implied consent law, penalties for violations, laws relating to the transportation of alcoholic beverages, plea bargaining and annulment, BAC testing, field sobriety testing, and various other provisions dealing with impaired driving.  New Hampshire does not distinguish between DUI and DWI, and the terms are used interchangeably in this article.

The penalties for driving or operating under the influence of drugs or liquor can be found in the NH Revised States §§ 265-A:18 & 19, and are extensive.  Depending on the circumstances of the violation and the driving record of the individual convicted, the violation may be considered a Class B misdemeanor, Class A misdemeanor, or Class B felony.  Penalties range from required completion of an Impaired Driver Intervention Program to fines to jail time.  The penalty imposed will depend on the classification of a conviction, the driver’s record, and the circumstances surrounding the violation.

In most circumstances, New Hampshire considers driving under the influence offenses to be misdemeanor offenses.  However, there are two situations in which the offense will be considered a felony.  First, when a driver is convicted of a DUI and causes an accident which results in the death or serious bodily injury of another he will be guilty of a felony.  Second, if a driver is convicted of a DUI and has previously been convicted of at least three (3) DUIs, he will be guilty of a felony.  The distinction between a misdemeanor and felony can have long lasting consequences on a individual’s rights, privileges, social life, and ability for employment.

The New Hampshire legislature has also enacted an implied consent law, basically stating that whenever a driver is asked by an officer to subject his or herself to testing for alcohol or controlled drugs, he or she is deemed to have given consent.  Refusal of certain tests can carry numerous consequences based on the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Individuals who operate commercial vehicles in New Hampshire are subject to greater regulation under impaired driving statutes than drivers of non-commercial vehicles.  These drivers are also subject to additional penalties for violations or convictions of impaired driving offenses.  The reason for these differences is generally due to the fact that a commercial vehicle, or, more specifically, careless/hazardous driving of a commercial vehicle, creates a greater danger to the public and increased likelihood of serious injury as a result of an accident.

Any driver who has been charged with an impaired driving offense, whether alcohol or drug related, should seek the counsel of a qualified attorney who is well practiced in handling these matters.  Convictions of impaired driving offenses carry serious adverse consequences as well as social stigmas, and every individual should take the upmost care in dealing with charges of this nature.


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