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Commercial Drivers License and DUI in New Hampshire

Those who drive commercial vehicles are subject to additional rules and requirements when operating a commercial vehicle.  A number of these additional rules apply to situations which may arise when commercial vehicle operators are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.  It is important to understand that in New Hampshire it is against the law to operate a commercial vehicle without a commercial driver license.  The requirements for obtaining one of these licenses is beyond the scope of this article and are not located in § 265-A of the New Hampshire statutes.

On January 1, 2011 the law relating to commercial drivers and impaired driving changed.  Although this article discusses the law now in place, any driver facing charges under this section that arose out of an incident occurring before January 2011 should see RSA § 265-A:23 and speak to an attorney knowledgeable of the law relating to impaired driving.  RSA § 265-A:23-1, which is the law now in place, is discussed further below.

Commercial Licenses and Drivers

There are two situations under New Hampshire law in which a person may be charged for violating § 265-A:23-1 and be subject to additional penalties beyond those proscribed for people convicted of DUI’s or aggravated DUI’s.  The first is when a person is convicted of a DUI or aggravated DUI and is a holder of a commercial license or endorsement or was required by law to have such a license or endorsement at the time they were convicted.  The second situation is when a person drives a commercial vehicle with an alcohol concentration of 0.04% or more.  When these circumstances are present, a person is not only subject to the penalties for a violation of § 265-A:2 or § 265-A:3, but also the penalties and sanctions in § 263:94.  These are discussed more in depth later in this section.

Section 265-A:24 makes it illegal for individuals to operate a commercial motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their system.  When an individual does drive a commercial motor vehicle with alcohol in their system or refuses to take a breath test to determine his or her BAC, the individual is placed out of service for twenty-four (24) hours.

Commercial Drivers and Implied Consent

Those driving commercial vehicles are subject to additional implied consent laws while operating commercial motor vehicles.  These additional implied consent laws are located at RSA § 265-A:25.  This section states that a commercial driver is subject to the implied consent law in § 265-A:4 and is deemed to have given consent to blood, breath, and urine testing to determine that individual’s BAC or the presence of drugs.  These tests can only be given when a law enforcement officer has stopped a commercial driver and has probable cause to believe that the driver has alcohol in his or her system.

For a first refusal to consent to a test, the person refusing consent will have their commercial driver license revoked for a period of at least one year.  After the first refusal, any subsequent refusal will cause the individual’s commercial drivers license to be revoked for a minimum of ten (10) years.  For people who drive commercial motor vehicles to make a living, it is extremely important that they know and understand the consequences of refusing to submit to a test for the presence of alcohol or drugs.

Penalties

Commercial drivers who are convicted of a DUI or Aggravated DUI charge face the same penalties as any other driver of a motor vehicle who is convicted of the same charge.  However, the statute governing commercial DUIs provides that additional penalties are imposed when commercial drivers are convicted.  These penalties are found at RSA § 263-94.  After a first conviction of a DUI or Aggravated DUI, regardless of whether the individual was driving a commercial vehicle, the individual will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for a period of not less than one year.  If the BAC of the individual convicted was 0.04% or more while he was driving a commercial vehicle, or 0.08% or more while driving a noncommercial motor vehicle, or 0.02% or more and the driver was under 21 years of age, he will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for not less than three (3) years.  Finally, if the individual has been convicted of two (2) or more DUI or Aggravated DUI offenses, or a combination of one of those and certain other violations (see § 263-94), he will be disqualified from driving a motor vehicle for life.


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