This is one of the most common questions people ask us. Unfortunately, there is no correct answer because there are so many variables. First off, the Intoxylizer 5000 breath machine that the police use is prone to user error. Second, for a variety of complicated medical reasons, the machine assumes that you have the “average” physiology. You don’t. We are all different and we all digest and burn off alcohol differently. Third, by the time the police ask you to take a breath test, you are no longer in the same condition that you were while driving. Depending on when and how much you had to drink, your BAC may be higher or lower than it was when your were actually driving. At best, the Intoxilyzer 5000 provides a rough estimate of your BAC.
The penalty for refusing to take the breath test is a 6 month loss of license. This is a significant price to pay for a refusal, but in some cases it might be the best course of action. Unfortunately, no single piece of advice applies in all possible cases.
If you have not been convicted of a DWI before and if you are not charged with any additional crimes, then you can relax, because the answer is “no.” If you have a prior DWI conviction within the past 10 years, then the law calls for a mandatory sentence of 3 days in the county jail, followed by a one-week stay at the multiple offender program.
The financial costs of a DWI conviction can differ for everyone. For a first offense, the penalty is a mandatory fine and penalty assessment of $600, although the judge has discretion to fine you up to $1200. For a second offense that increases to a mandatory fine and penalty assessment of $900 and the judge has discretion to impose a fine of up to $2000.
The financial costs of a DWI conviction go far beyond the court fines. A loss of your driver’s license can cost you your job. Your can see your insurance costs increase by $500-3000. There is a cost associated with the alcohol awareness and counseling programs that are a mandatory part of any sentence that ranges from $460-1200. You would need to pay a fee to the DMV $100 to have your license reinstated and possibly pay $800 to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car.
As you can see, the costs you could suffer as the result of a DWI conviction are substantial. That is another reason that you need to see an experienced lawyer to review all of your options with you.
Generally, people who lose their license as a result of DWI do so for two different reasons.
New Hampshire’s DWI law contains minimum mandatory suspensions in the event of a conviction. For a first offense, the minimum license loss is 9 months and a maximum of 2 years. However, the suspension can be reduced to 90 days in some circumstances. For a second offense, the mandatory period of license suspension is 18 months and the maximum is 2 years.
In addition to the penalty that can be imposed by a judge, a person who refuses to take a breath test is subject to administrative license suspension for 180 days. If the person has a prior refusal or DWI conviction, then the administration license suspension is for 2 years. This period is in addition to any loss of license imposed by a court.
If a person takes a BAC test and receives a result of over .08 (or as low as .02 in some cases) then they also lose their license of 180 days for a first offense and 2 years for a second offense.
These periods of license suspension can vary if certain circumstances exist. You should consult with an experienced DWI attorney to make sure that you know all of your options.
The “one-leg test” is one of several roadside tests that the police may ask you to perform. The dirty little secret that the police will not tell you about these tests is that you are not being scored on your dexterity alone. You are also be scored on whether you followed the directions perfectly, whether you were able to stand without swaying when the instructions were being given, and several other factors as well. The police call these “divided attention tests” because they believe that the presence of alcohol diminishes you ability to perform multiple tasks at once. It is misleading for the police not to tell you this, but they do it anyway.
We are asked this question a lot, and the answer usually surprises people. You have probably seen a chart like these ones:
that estimate BAC based on body weight, amount of alcohol consumed, and the passage of time. While these give you a very rough indication of what your BAC might be, they are misleading. In order for a judge to find you guilty of DWI in New Hampshire, the police need only to show that your ability to drive was impaired by alcohol to any degree. This about that again: To any degree. I suspect that a scientist would tell you that one-half of one beer impairs your physical and mental abilities to some degree. You do not see Dale Earnhardt Jr. sipping on half a beer before a race, right? Fortunately, in all the years that I have been prosecuting and defending these cases, I have never seen anyone convicted for driving under the influence of one drink.
One of the sneaky ways that the police get people to convict themselves is to ask them to say, on a scale of 1 to 10, how “buzzed” they feel. Most people will answer by saying they feel that they are between 2 and 4 on the 10-point scale. This is sometimes enough for a judge to find a person guilty, even though they are not even approaching the “legal limit” of .08.
If you took a breath or blood test and received a BAC result over .08, you were likely charged with two different crimes. One summons (or complaint) will allege that you drove while your ability to drive was “impaired” by alcohol. The second summons will allege only that your BAC was over .08. If the tests show that your BAC was over .08, the police do not even need to show that you were impaired at all.
The good news is that you cannot be punished twice, even if the police have charged you with two separate crimes.
New Hampshire law has no provision for a “work-only” or “daylight” driver’s license.
Yes! The DWI laws are complex and that means that there are plenty of places for the police to make mistakes that can lead to an acquittal. The system is full of opportunities for human and mechanical error. Also, it is important to remember that the police have the burden to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Any of the myriad of mistakes can introduce enough doubt into a case to lead to an acquittal.
It takes years of experience to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to mount a proper defense to a DWI charge. If you are charged with DWI, make sure you work with a lawyer that understands how the system works and how to investigate and present all possible defenses.
Like most criminal law cases, DUI/DWI cases are typically handled on a hourly or flat fee arrangement.
The attorneys at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey have years of trial experience in handling DUI/DWI cases. If you are arrested for a DUI/DWI, choosing the right lawyer does make a difference. Having the right lawyer may mean the difference between success and failur