New Hampshire “Aggravated” DWI

What is an “aggravated” DWI in New Hampshire? And what are the penalties for a conviction?

June 30, 2016

In New Hampshire, you can get a DWI (sometimes called a “DUI”) for operating or attempting to operate a vehicle while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs (or other intoxicating substances) or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. Anyone who’s caught driving under the influence faces serious consequences.

But New Hampshire law also specifies a number aggravating factors that can increase the already-severe consequences. A DWI becomes an “aggravated” offense when a motorist drives under the influence and:

  • exceeds the speed limit by more than 30 miles per hour 
  • causes a collision resulting in “serious bodily injury” 
  • attempts to elude a pursuing officer by increasing speed, extinguishing headlamps, or abandoning a vehicle, or
  • has a passenger under the age of 16.

A motorist can also be convicted of an aggravated DWI for operating or attempting to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .16% or more.

Administrative Penalties

The administrative penalties for an aggravated first-offense DWI are the same as those for a standard first offense. Drivers with BACs of .08% or more (.02% for underage drivers) face an administrative license suspension of six months. (The New Hampshire Department of Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will generally impose the administrative suspension regardless of whether the motorist is ultimately convicted of a DWI in criminal court.)

Once the driver completes the DWI suspension and the other requirements for license reinstatement, the DMV will issue a “probationary license.” With the probationary license—which will be in effect for at least five years—the motorist is prohibited from driving with a BAC of .03% or more. A violation carries a 90 to 180-day administrative license suspension. And if the driver refuses to submit to DUI testing (ordinarily, a blood or breath test) while holding a probationary license, the DMV will suspend the driver’s license for 90 days.

Criminal Penalties

Generally, aggravated DWIs are Class A misdemeanors. But an aggravated offense that involves serious bodily injury is a Class B felony. Drivers convicted of misdemeanor aggravated DWIs face $750 to $2,000 in fines and from five days to one year in jail. A felony aggravated DWI carries fines of $1,000 to $4000 and a jail sentence of anywhere from 14 days to seven years.

All motorists convicted of an aggravated DWI are looking at an 18-month to two-year license revocation. (In most cases, the actual suspension period will be the longer of the administrative and criminal revocations.) But generally, a judge can suspend up to six months of the revocation. So the actual minimum suspension period a court can impose is 12 months—an 18-month revocation, with six months of that suspended.

After completing the revocation period, all drivers convicted of an aggravated DWI must have an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicles for 12 months to two years.

Seek an Attorney’s Advice

New Hampshire DWI law is complicated. And how the law applies in a given case depends on the facts. Get in contact with an experienced DWI attorney to find what you’re up against and the options you have. 

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