Being convicted of DWI in New Hampshire can have serious consequences, and our state is known for having some of the strictest DWI laws in the country. A DWI conviction could result in the loss of your license, significant fines, loss of employment, or even jail time. Even moderate social drinking could result in a DWI; as a result, almost anyone who enjoys the occasional drink could put themselves in legal jeopardy by getting behind the wheel.
Consequences of drinking and driving apply equally to state officials who are charged with upholding the law. According to a report in the Eagle-Tribune, former New Hampshire attorney general Peter Heed admitted to driving while intoxicated late last month. Heed, who resigned as attorney general in 2004, was arrested on January 10th for suspicion of drunk driving. Because of Heed’s close connection to the state judiciary, his arraignment was postponed until a neutral judge could be found to hear his case. Heed was ultimately sentenced to a $500 fine and suspension of his driving privileges for 90 days. According to a press release by state police, this penalty is the standard sentence for a first-time offender with no extenuating circumstances, so Heed did not receive any special treatment due to his former position.
DWI in NH
Under New Hampshire law, the legal blood-alcohol content for driving is .08 percent for people over 21. That amount drops down to .02 percent for people under 21, and .04 for holders of commercial CDL drivers licenses. These relatively low BAC percentage limits mean that a night of even casual drinking may open a person up to potential criminal liability if he or she gets behind the wheel of a car. In addition, any medical conditions or prescription drugs you are taking may increase alcohol’s effect on you. As a result, if you are planning on drinking alcohol and then traveling somewhere, it is best to have transportation plans in place that do not involve you driving a vehicle.
If you do get stopped by police and they determine that you are under the influence, you may be subjected to significant legal penalties. A first offense DWI conviction can result in a fine of at least $500, and a license suspension of at least 9 months. For a second offense, the penalties increase significantly; the minimum fine increases to $750 and, if the second DWI occurred within 2 years of the first, at least 37 consecutive days imprisonment. A second offense will also result in a license suspension of at least three years. A third offense is inclusive of all penalties involved with a second offense, but increases the minimum jail sentence to 180 consecutive days and the license suspension to at least 5 years. A fourth or subsequent DWI is treated as a felony, and the license suspension period is at least seven years.
One lesson you may learn from attorney general Heed’s DWI problems is that a DWI conviction can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, education, or profession. Because the stakes are so high, it is important to be extremely prudent about how much you drink if you plan to drive in the near future. If you or someone you know is facing DWI allegations, it is important to consult a legal professional who knows how to handle such cases.