First-Offense DWI/DUI in New Hampshire

Read about some of the administrative and criminal consequences for a first DWI in New Hampshire.

A New Hampshire first-offense DWI (driving while intoxicated), sometimes called a "DUI," carries both criminal and administrative penalties. The possible penalties for a first DWI are more severe when the motorist is convicted an "aggravated" DWI. An aggravated DWI involves 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 higher and:

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 (License-Related) Penalties

Drivers with a BAC of .08% or more (.02% or more for drivers under the age of 21) typically face an administrative license suspension of six months. Similarly, drivers who refuse to submit to DUI chemical testing in violation of New Hampshire's implied consent laws face a 180-day license suspension. Administrative suspensions for refusal are in addition to any suspension the criminal court hands down for a DWI conviction—in other words, the administrative and criminal suspension can't overlap.

Generally, the New Hampshire Department of Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) imposes the administrative suspension regardless of whether the driver is ultimately convicted of a DWI in criminal court.

Once a motorist has completed a DWI suspension and the other requirements for license reinstatement, the DMV will issue a "probationary license" that will be in effect for at least five years. With a probationary license, the motorist is prohibited from driving with a BAC of .03% or more. A violation carries a 90 to 180-day administrative license suspension. If a driver refuses to submit to testing while holding a probationary license, the DMV will suspend the driver's license for 90 days.

Criminal Penalties

In New Hampshire, a standard first-offense DWI is a Class B misdemeanor. Class B misdemeanors don't carry jail time, but offenders face fines from $500 to $1,200. Also, a first-DWI has a number of hidden costs, such as insurance increases and attorney fees (assuming you hire an attorney).

New Hampshire judges must refer all motorists convicted of a first DWI to an Impaired Driver Care Management Program (IDCMP) for alcohol and drug abuse screening. If the screening shows a likelihood of a substance abuse disorder, the motorist is required to do a full evaluation and follow the "service plan" recommended by the IDCMP provider. First offenders typically must also complete an Impaired Driver Education Program (IDEP)—consisting of 20 hours of substance abuse education—before they're allowed to reinstate their license.

A first-offense DWI carries a nine-month to two-year license revocation. But generally, a judge can suspend up to six months of the revocation. So the actual minimum suspension period a court can impose is three months—a nine-month revocation, with six months of that suspended. A judge who suspends a portion of an offender's revocation can require the offender to have an ignition interlock device (IID) during the time the revocation is suspended.

Most aggravated DWIs are Class A misdemeanors. However, an aggravated DWI involving serious bodily injury is a Class B felony. A misdemeanor aggravated DWI carries fines of $750 to $2,000 and anywhere from five days to one year in jail. A driver convicted of a felony aggravated DWI, on the other hand, will have to pay $1,000 to $4000 in fines and spend between 14 days and seven years in jail.

All motorists convicted of an aggravated DWI face a license suspension of 18 months to two years, six months of which can be suspended by the court. After completing the revocation period, these drivers must have an IID in their vehicles for 12 months to two years.

As with other first offenders, New Hampshire judges must refer drivers convicted of a first aggravated DWI to an IDCMP. However, offenders with aggravated DWIs skip the preliminary screening and go directly to a full evaluation.

Get Legal Advice

New Hampshire DWI law is complicated and the facts of each case are different. It's always a good idea to get in touch with an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible after being arrested for or charged with a DWI.

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