DWI/OUI Penalties

Whether you know it or not, you impliedly consent to certain physical and/or chemical tests when you drive in this State and are arrested, and a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe you were driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. This is commonly known as Implied Consent or Administrative License Suspension (ALS).

If you submit to a test and your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is .08 or greater (.02 or greater for drivers under the age of 21), than the New Hampshire Department of Safety (DOS) will seek to suspend your license for 6-months on a first offense, and 2-years for a second offense.

You can refuse such testing, but DOS will nonetheless seek to suspend your license for the periods referenced above and your refusal will most likely be used against you in court. Moreover, any license loss imposed by DOS will run consecutively to anything imposed by the court.

***Important*** You have a right to challenge the ALS suspension, but must do so within 30 days or your right to do so will be lost! In most cases (except for cases involving blood draws), you only have 30 days from the date of your arrest to challenge the ALS suspension by requesting an Administrative Hearing at the DOS in front of a Hearings Examiner. If you fail to request a hearing, your right to do so is forever waived. You would lose the opportunity to possibly prevent the ALS suspension. You would lose an important bargaining chip to use in plea negotiations with the State. You would lose the opportunity to question the arresting police officer(s) under oath and to obtain a transcript of this proceeding to use when plea bargaining and/or at the time of your trial in court.

Many people wonder whether they should submit to testing or not (including field sobriety tests). Generally, if you think you are over the legal limit, do not submit to testing. If you feel you are below the legal limit, take any tests offered to you. Most people are able to metabolize one drink per hour.

In addition to the ALS, you must also deal with the court case that follows a DWI arrest. A first offense DWI is now considered a crime in the State of New Hampshire and carries a mandatory minimum penalty that includes a $500 fine and a 9-month loss of license. In order to get reinstated, you must also complete what is referred to as the Impaired Driver Care Management Program (IDCMP).

A second offense within 2 years of the first carries a 3-year loss of license, a $750 fine, and a mandatory 60-day jail sentence. A second offense committed beyond 2 years of the first, but within 10 years, carries a 3-year license loss, a $750 fine, and a mandatory 17-day jail sentence with 12-days suspended upon compliance with IDCMP.

The penalties get worse the more convictions you have. And a fourth offense can now be charged as a felony in New Hampshire.

In addition to the penalties described above, a DWI conviction can have collateral consequences depending on other factors, such as the type of license you hold (e.g. CDL), your motor vehicle record (Habitual Offender), immigration status, employment status, etc. For example, many people would never guess that a DWI conviction can result in certain travel restrictions (e.g. entry into Canada and other countries). You should consult a lawyer about the specific facts and circumstances surrounding your case.