A conviction for Driving While Intoxicated or DWI can have serious consequences both in the form of penalties handed out by the court and in other areas of your life. The punishments given by a court are known as the actual consequences. All of the other effects that a conviction has on a person's financial, professional, and personal life are known as collateral consequences. While the court is required to explain the actual consequences of a DWI conviction, the court does not need to mention any collateral consequences, which can continue for a much longer period.
New Hampshire Drunk Driving Law
The actual consequences resulting from a DWI conviction can include fines, jail time, participation in an impaired driver intervention program, and license suspension. Depending on the number of previous DWI offenses and the circumstances surrounding the DWI incident, a person convicted of drunk driving can be subject to up to seven years in prison and an indefinite suspension of driving privileges.
Even a first offense where there are no aggravating factors there can be a minimum fine of $500, enrollment in an impaired driver intervention program, and license suspension of at least nine months, but not longer than two years. The court can decrease the license suspension by up to six months. For some professions, the minimum penalties are increased. For holders of a NH Commercial Driver's License, or CDL, there is a mandatory minimum one-year suspension of driving privileges for a first offense.
DWI Consequences Means More Than Jail Time
While spending time in jail and losing driving privileges can certainly be a hardship, many people find that the collateral consequences of a DWI conviction have a more serious effect on their day-to-day lives. This is especially true in cases where the actual consequences are not as harsh, such as a first offense. For many people, it may seem easier to just accept these penalties and move on with their lives. What they may not realize at the time is that a DWI conviction can have many other consequences.
Having a criminal record of any kind can make it harder to succeed in life. Employers routinely ask if an applicant has ever been convicted of a crime and many times run criminal background checks. More and more property owners are running criminal background checks on prospective tenants. Additionally, car insurance rates will increase after a DWI conviction and it may be harder to find a company willing to insure a driver with a DWI on their record.
Professionals Convicted of Drunk Driving
People in certain professions may be especially hard hit by the collateral consequences of a DWI conviction. Nurses and physicians may lose their medical licenses after a DWI conviction. International travel, even to Canada, may be restricted, and will certainly be subject to extra scrutiny if the traveler has been convicted of DWI. This can be a problem for business and leisure travelers alike. Additionally, security clearance can be revoked or denied on the basis of a DWI. Security clearance is a requirement of employment for many professionals including those in law enforcement, the military, and many private sectors.
It is important that you fully understand what the possible actual and collateral consequences of a DWI conviction are before agreeing to a plea or taking action. An experienced New Hampshire DUI attorney can help explain these consequences and negotiate with the prosecutor to get the best possible outcome based on your particular situation.