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The land of granite and mead

Until you visit New Hampshire, you might not really know what a beautiful American life might look like. Home to some truly gorgeous scenery, a plethora of bars and tasty eateries, and a complete and total lack of sales and income tax, there’s something to be said for the Granite State and its ability to foster a happy, hard-working populace. With favorite dishes like roasted venison, clam chowder, and apple pie – not to mention maple syrup, which you might not be considered an actual dish per se, but is definitely their official state food – you know there’s gotta be some wicked stiff drinks to go on the side. (Plus some stuff on the unconventional side, like timeless brewing traditions in the arts of hot spiced cider and mead.) Or maybe it’s just to help you feel better about all that cold weather.

No matter what sorts of drinks are being consumed in NH, it’s a statistical fact that far more of it is consumed per capita than the national average. And as you can assume, with rampant alcohol consumption (usually) comes sensible laws governing intoxication behind the wheel of your car. The state operates under lengthy suspension times, hefty fines, and narrow space for negotiation when it comes to completing court requirements on time. Our advice to you: Do what you need to do to stay safe and worry-free under New Hampshire DWI law! Not drinking and driving would probably be a good place to start. But if that plan has gone awry for you, fear not: There’s plenty to be learned on this page. And if it hasn’t – it never hurts to be prepared.


What to expect

Anytime you get busted for drinking and driving in NH, you should expect a whole lot of hassle. But let’s take things slow – what constitutes alcohol consumption and driving to the point of illegality? As a general rule, you can count on formally being in violation of state law if:

  • Your BAC is 0.08% or higher if you are over the age of 21.
  • Your BAC is 0.04% or higher if you are over the age of 21 and hold a commercial driver’s license.
  • Your BAC is 0.02% or higher if you are under the age of 21 – A.K.A. zero tolerance.

Easy enough. Now before we get into the standard penalty breakdowns, it’s important to remember that in New Hampshire, there are what one could considered two levels of drunkenness. (Well, three, technically, but level one would have to be “not drunk” and if that happens to be you on any sort of celebratory night of the year, congratulations, you can stop reading right now.) Level two is past the legal limit, but below a level three, which is twice the legal limit. If you’re caught with a BAC of 0.16% or higher, your DWI will be considered an “aggravated DWI”, and you’ll be subjected to a range of much severer penalties. For a closer look at aggravated DWI’s, skip to the related section below.


The penalties involved

Let’s just say you’re busted, you forgot to get a lawyer, and there’s basically nothing standing in the way of the judge to administer whatever punishment he or she sees fit – besides your clever wit, that is. What’s the worst that could happen?


  • First offense: This is a class B misdemeanor.
    • A fine somewhere between $500 and $1,200.
    • License suspension for a minimum of nine months and a maximum of two full years. Depending on your compliance with official court guidelines, however, there is a possibility of getting this reduced to a three-month suspension. To do so you must complete a drug and alcohol screening within two weeks of your arrest; you must then complete a substance abuse evaluation within one month; and you must complete the required driver’s reeducation program.
    • Required processes for license reinstatement, including a SR22 insurance filing and the eventual completion of a driver’s reeducation program if you opt not to do it at the beginning.
  • Second offense: This is a class A misdemeanor.
    • A fine of at least $750.
    • A minimum of 30 days in jail, 17 of which must be served consecutively. The remainder can be suspended in favor of some sort of deal worked out with the judge, like community service. (Bonus: If the second offense occurs within two years of the first, that minimum stay is bumped up to 60 days, with 30 days suspended.)
    • A three-year license suspension.
    • All the required processes associated with license reinstatement.
  • Third offense: This is a class A misdemeanor.
    • A fine somewhere between $750 and $2,000.
    • A minimum of six months in jail (and up to one full year.) On the bright side, up to 150 days may be suspended in lieu of fulfilling all other necessary requirements and not fucking up in other ways on the side.
    • Two years’ probation.
    • Indefinite license suspension. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never get it back, but you must wait five years before reapplying for it through the DMV.
    • The installation and upkeep of an IID in your vehicle for 12 months to two full years upon license reinstatement.

Any subsequent violations within a ten-year period are considered felony offenses, and besides the hefty fines involved and the associated stigma with just really not getting your shit together at that point, you should mainly be worried about losing your license for at least seven years. That’s a pretty long time to be planning your life around bus schedules.


You aggravated, bro?

As the laws of nature so often dictate, things that arrive together often hit us with their combined force, and the results can be devastating. In the case of DWI’s, of course, we’re talking aggravated DWI’s; in other words, the ones that make the court system go, “Oh, it’s one of these…”

There are a few different qualifiers that can put you in this oh-so-special category. They are as follows:

  • You caused an accident which resulted in serious injury or death.
  • You had a minor in the car at the time of your arrest – which is, in this context, defined as somebody 16 years of age or younger.
  • You were traveling at least 30 miles per hour over the speed limit.
  • You attempted to escape the arresting officer (by speeding up, turning off your headlights, leaving your vehicle and running away, etc.)
  • You had a BAC of 0.16% or higher.

Most of the time, an aggravated DWI is a class A misdemeanor; the only exception is when it results in injury or death, in which case it qualifies as a felony. While the penalties associated with misdemeanor aggravated DWI’s can of course vary, you can in general count on being fined up to $2,000 and spending anywhere from five days to one full year. (By contrast, a felony charge can stick you in the pen for up to seven years. Yeah…ouch.)


New Hampshire DWI? Don’t delay – try BernieSez today

The details surrounding an OWI arrest are often complicated and can involve a great deal of emotion on your part. It can be tempting to follow along with whatever you’re told – or, depending on your level of intoxication, trying to fight your way out of it. Our advice: Be smart. Take deep breaths. And upon getting out of jail, contact a lawyer as quickly as possible. Although it might be the last thing on your mind, acting fast is always in your best interest if you want any shot at lessening the severity of your punishment. BernieSez is a free and easy-to-use resource when it comes to finding legal aid and getting your most burning questions answered. Simply upload your case today for a free consultation, post a question to our discussion boards, and begin your journey towards the better side of justice.


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