New Hampshire DUI Defense Lawyers
Driving while under the influence (usually called “DWI” or “DUI”) is defined in RSA 265-A:2. There are two basic ways that a driver can be guilty of DWI in New Hampshire: First, if the driver is operating a motor vehicle on a public way while under the influence (defined as “impaired to any degree”) of alcohol, a controlled drug, a prescription drug, an over the counter drug, or any other substance; Second, if the driver’s blood alcohol content is .08 or greater (.02 or greater if the driver is under the age of 21).
The penalties for DWI are stated in RSA 266-A:18 and largely depend on whether the driver has prior convictions, or the presence of certain aggravating factors. Some common aggravating factors are: if the blood alcohol content (BAC) was .16 or greater; if the driver was speeding; or if there was an accident or injury. The penalty scheme is complicated and there are many different variables that dictate the level of the offense, the maximum possible punishment, and the mandatory minimum punishment.
The mandatory minimum penalty is the lowest possible punishment that the judge must impose if the defendant is found guilty. For example, a driver over the age of 21 with no prior DWIs and no aggravating factors is subject to a maximum punishment of a two year loss of license and a $1,200 fine. The mandatory minimum punishment is a nine month loss of license and a $500 fine. It is also mandatory that the driver complete a required alcohol class.
In addition to any loss of license imposed by the judge, if a driver either refused a breathalyzer or blood test, or submits to the test and has a BAC of .08 or higher (.02 or higher if the driver is under the age of 21), the Division of Motor Vehicles will impose an additional loss of license known as an administrative license suspension. Unlike the loss of license imposed in court, this administrative license suspension is generally imposed thirty days from the date of the arrest and if the driver does not file to challenge it within thirty days the right to do so is waived.
Defending a DWI is complicated and there can be many serious consequences if found guilty. This summary only touches on some of the basic issues but not nearly all of them. If you or a loved one are facing a DWI in the state of New Hampshire, it is important to consult with an experienced NH DWI lawyer as soon as possible.
Driving While Intoxicated Case Results
- Not Guilty: Jonathan Cohen represented a woman who had lost control of her vehicle and skidded into a mailbox. She refused to provide a breath sample and the prosecutor argued that her driving and her poor performance on the field sobriety tests showed she was intoxicated. Cohen zealously questioned the arresting officer about the way he administered field sobriety tests to the woman and pointed out significant errors committed by the officer. At the end of the trial the Judge found the woman “not guilty.”
- Not Guilty: Andrew Winters represented a man who was charged with driving while intoxicated after testing .08 on the breathalyzer machine. Even though .08 is the legal limit in New Hampshire, the test has a margin of error of +/- .01. Winters was able to convince the jury that his client was not impaired at the time he was driving, and his client was found not guilty. Because the man had a prior conviction, he avoided not only a fine and loss of license, but a minimum 10-day jail sentence.
- Not guilty: Jonathan Cohen represented a Correctional Officer charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated because of the high breath test. Cohen was able to get the breath test thrown out and then won the trial after successful cross-examination of the two arresting police officers about their improperly administered field sobriety tests.
- Not Guilty: Andrew Winters represented a man charged with driving while a habitual offender and driving while intoxicated. On the habitual offender charge, which is a felony, the client could have faced up to five years in prison, and a minimum of one year in jail. Nobody saw the client driving but the police found his car stuck in a ditch and the client standing right next to it. Winters presented the client’s brother as a witness, who testified that in fact he, the brother, had been driving, and when the car got stuck, the brother went to look for help, leaving the client to wait by the car. The jury believed the brother and found the client not guilty of both charges, saving him from certain jail time.
- Placed on File Without Finding: Jonathan Cohen represented a man accused of speeding. Cohen was able to convince the arresting officer to allow the man to complete a safe driving course and the speeding ticket was placed on file without a finding. The man was able to avoid the fine as well as the points he would have received from the DMV if he had been convicted of that violation.
- Not Guilty: Andrew Winters represented a commercial truck driver who was charged with reckless operation of his truck after he rear-ended a car at stoplight. A police officer claimed that at the scene of the accident, the truck driver stated that his frustration at the driver ahead of him for not moving on a green light, and so had intentionally tapped the back bumper with his truck. Winters convinced the judge that this story was impossible. The truck driver was found not guilty, sparing him loss of his commercial driver’s license, and saving his livelihood.
- Case Dismissed: Jonathan Cohen represented a man accused of driving while intoxicated. Cohen was able to convince the Judge that the stop of his client was illegal after cross-examination of the arresting police officer. As a result the charges against Cohen’s client were dismissed.
- Not Guilty: Andrew Winters represented a young man charged with driving away from an accident. The officers claimed that paint on the young man’s car must have been a result of the accident, but the judge agreed with Andrew’s argument that the paint transfer was inconclusive, resulting in a not guilty verdict for the young man.
If you or someone you love has been charged with DWI/DUI, you need the defense lawyers of Cohen & Winters. Contact us today for your free consultation.