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New Hampshire DUI Laws

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is one of the most common offenses charged by law enforcement. It's also a public health issue. Drunk driving accidents kill 37 people every day in the United States.

A conviction of driving while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances (DUI) in New Hampshire carries serious penalties. You will lose your driver's license for some time, may spend time in jail, and will pay huge fines. While drugged or drunk driving is never a good idea, mistakes happen. Here is some information to assist you should you face a DUI in New Hampshire.

This chart lays out the basics of New Hampshire's DUI laws:

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Implied Consent

"Per Se" BAC Limit 0.08%
Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit 0.02%
Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit 0.16%
Implied Consent to Submit to BAC Test? Yes

Select Penalties

Minimum License Suspension or Revocation (1st, 2nd, 3rd offense) 9 months/ 3 years / Indefinite
Mandatory Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Yes
Vehicle Confiscation Possible? No
Ignition Interlock Device Possible? Yes, mandatory after 2nd offense

Note: State laws are subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state laws you are researching.

New Hampshire DWI Laws

In New Hampshire, impaired driving is called a DWI or driving while intoxicated offense. Sometimes, it's called a DUI, driving under the influence. Both terms are interchangeable and refer to the same offense in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire law prohibits driving or attempting to drive a vehicle or an off-highway recreational vehicle (OHRV) while intoxicated by:

  • Alcohol or intoxicating liquor
  • Any controlled drug
  • Over-the-counter medication
  • Prescription medication
  • Natural or synthetic chemical substance
  • A combination of these

That impairs your ability to drive.

The law also prohibits drinking alcohol and driving with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% or more in your system. This level drops to 0.02% for commercial drivers.

DWI Details

A vehicle or OHRV includes any motor vehicle or device that propels you. This means:

  • Cars, Trucks, SUVs
  • Snowmobiles
  • All-terrain vehicles
  • Boats
  • Other watercraft

You also don't have to be in motion to receive a DWI charge, but the law requires you to be in the passenger seat. Law enforcement may not charge you if you are asleep in the back seat.

Per Se Offense

New Hampshire recognizes a per se DWI offense. If your BAC exceeds the legal limit of 0.08%, the officer does not need additional proof to arrest you. Your chemical test results are enough evidence to sustain a charge. You don't have to be showing impairment or driving poorly. A per se offense stands on its own.

A law enforcement officer can still arrest you if you are below this legal limit and you show signs of impairment. These signs may include slurring your words, a smell of alcohol on your breath, or driving carelessly.

Implied Consent

By driving in New Hampshire, you have agreed to follow its laws. One of these laws is to cooperate with chemical tests when a police officer reasonably believes you are driving intoxicated. This is an implied consent law. Every state has a similar statute.

Often, an officer will ask you to take a preliminary breath test or Breathalyzer after a traffic stop. They may ask you to perform field sobriety tests (FST) to gauge your impairment. The results of these tests could lead to the officer asking for chemical tests. Chemical tests occur after your arrest. They can include an evidentiary breath test, blood testing, or urine and bodily fluid analysis. Chemical tests establish your BAC and look for illegal intoxicants. These results become evidence against you.

Administrative License Revocation

You can refuse a preliminary breath test without penalties. However, under New Hampshire's implied consent law, officers expected you to cooperate with field sobriety tests and chemical testing. You may refuse to submit to FST and chemical testing, but there are consequences.

For a first offense, the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will suspend your driver's license for 180 days. A second refusal will suspend your license for two years, followed by an ignition interlock device requirement for one to two years. This suspension will run regardless of the outcome of your DWI.

You can still face DWI charges without chemical testing. An officer may be able to get a warrant to compel your cooperation if needed. The court may also consider evidence of your refusal of chemical tests in a criminal or civil action that arises from your DWI.

You may request a hearing to fight your license suspension. You have 30 days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing with the Department of Safety.

Ignition Interlock Device

After your license suspension period, the court may order you to install and maintain an ignition interlock device for a period of time. This may be from 12 months to two years.

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a small breath-testing device installed into your vehicle's ignition system. You must provide a breath sample before you can drive. If the IID detects alcohol in your system, your vehicle will not start.

IIDs often require additional breath samples during your drive to ensure you are sober.

DWI Penalties

A DWI conviction carries heavy penalties. You will deal with the criminal justice system and the New Hampshire Department of Safety. The Department of Safety manages your license suspension and ignition interlock device.

A first-offense DWI is a Class B misdemeanor. If convicted, your sentence may include:

  • Minimum fine of $500
  • Complete a substance abuse assessment with the Impaired Driver Care Management Program (IDCMP)
  • Undergo treatment if needed
  • Complete an Impaired Driver Education Program (IDEP)
  • Driver's license suspension for nine months to two years
  • Submit to random urine tests if ordered
  • May apply for a restricted license after 45 days of suspension

A second offense DWI is a Class A misdemeanor that carries:

  • $750 fine
  • If a second offense is within two years of the first DWI conviction, the sentence will include a 60-day jail sentence
  • If a second offense is within 10 years of the first conviction, the sentence includes a mandatory 17-day jail sentence
  • Undergo a complete substance abuse assessment with the IDCMP
  • Comply with any treatment program ordered by the IDCMP
  • Complete an approved IDEP
  • License suspension period of three years

For a third offense, your sentence is similar to that of a second offense conviction. However, you will lose your driver's license indefinitely. You won't be eligible for reinstatement for five years. You will serve a minimum of 30 days in jail.

Aggravating Factors

Certain factors will increase your charge to an aggravated DWI. Aggravating factors include:

  • Speeding more than 30 miles over the speed limit
  • Causing an accident resulting in the serious bodily injury of another
  • Evading police officers
  • Transporting a passenger aged 16 or younger
  • Operating a commercial vehicle
  • Having a BAC of 0.16% or greater

An aggravated DWI is a Class A misdemeanor. Conviction may carry the following penalties:

  • Fine of $750
  • Mandatory 17-day jail sentence, with 12 days suspended
  • Undergo a complete substance abuse assessment with the IDCMP
  • Follow any treatment program ordered by the IDCMP
  • 18-month driver's license suspension, with up to two years possible
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for up to two years

Zero Tolerance for Underage DWI

New Hampshire employs a zero-tolerance law for underage impaired driving. Under this law, if you are below the legal drinking age and have any measurable amount of alcohol in your system, you can face a DWI charge. New Hampshire has set a BAC of 0.02% for underage drivers. You will also face arrest on a DWI charge if you refuse chemical testing.

Penalties for an underage DWI conviction include:

  • Fine of $500 to $1,200
  • License suspension for one to two years
  • Undergo a complete substance abuse assessment with the IDCMP
  • Follow any treatment program ordered by the IDCMP
  • Complete the Impaired Driver Education Program (IDEP)

If your BAC is 0.08% or more, your penalties become more serious. The court may require you to install and maintain an ignition interlock device until you reach 21 or for a minimum of 12 months.

Impaired Driver Care Management Program (IDCMP)

You need to complete an Impaired Driver Care Management Program (IDCMP) as a part of your sentence. This course aims to raise awareness about the dangers of impaired driving. The program also assesses and provides help for those in need of substance abuse treatment services.

You will first complete an intake interview to determine if you need further assistance, counseling, or treatment for alcohol or substance abuse. If you're determined not to need additional services, you must complete the Impaired Driver Education Program (IDEP) or a Weekend Impaired Driver Education Program (WIDEP). If the evaluator determines you need more intensive treatment, you will be subject to a longer treatment plan.

If you do not complete the program, the court will revoke your driver's license for the entire period allowed under the statute. You must complete this process before you can have your driving privileges reinstated.

New Hampshire DWI Resources:

Facing DWI Charges? Get Legal Help Today

If you or someone you love is facing an alcohol or drug-related DWI offense, you likely have many questions. An excellent first step is to meet with an attorney who knows what to look for in the police report and can help you plan your defense. Find an experienced New Hampshire DWI attorney today.

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