Manchester, New Hampshire DWI Defense: Need for Strong Defense in Light of Stiff Penalties

Posted by Ryan Russman | Oct 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is considered a crime in Manchester, New Hampshire, in the rest of the state and, in fact, anywhere in the U.S.

In the majority of states, statutes refer to the offense of driving under the influence (DUI). In Manchester, New Hampshire and elsewhere in the state, the statutes refer to driving while intoxicated (DWI).

In August 2005, a uniform rule on “per se intoxication” has been enacted in New Hampshire and every other state.  This law entails that drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 percent are deemed intoxicated under the applicable laws.

In Manchester, New Hampshire and elsewhere, all drivers under the legal drinking age of 21 are not allowed to consume alcohol above the “zero tolerance” level of .02 percent.  As a result, even a small trace of alcohol could lead to a DWI arrest.

Need for strong DWI Defense

Under the New Hampshire DWI law, the primary sanction would be license suspension or revocation for six months for the first offense, three years for the second and five years for the third.  This penalty could also be imposed on a driver who declines to undergo the necessary chemical tests such as urine, breath, blood testing.

The so-called “enhanced penalty” could also be imposed on the offender.  This entails longer imprisonment, higher fines and harsher sanctions.  Apart from the penalties under the DUI law, the DUI offender could also be subject to criminal law penalties that are generally more discretionary.  For this reason, seeking the advice of drunk-driving attorneys in Manchester, NH and elsewhere to prepare the DWI defense is imperative.

Other DWI Penalties

Apart from the mentioned fines and license suspension/revocation, the person arrested for DUI could be required to attend DUI prevention programs, including an assessment of possible dependency on alcohol.  Oftentimes, these penalties are imposed in lieu of imprisonment or payment of high fines.

Under the law applicable in Manchester, NH, regardless of the frequency of a DUI arrest, a person's vehicle could not be confiscated as a penalty for the offense.  However, the offender could be required to install a vehicle ignition interlock breath-testing device to prevent him from driving if his BAC exceeds the minimum amount permitted by the DUI law.

Drunk Driving Defense Strategies

Typically, the person arrested for DUI would attempt to cast doubt on the testimonies of the enforcement officers involved in the arrest.  In some cases, the defendant would try to disprove the findings of the test performed by providing proof that will support his defense.  This could include a witness or a testimony that questions the procedure done for the testing.

The defendant could also use the argument of necessity.  This is applicable to cases where the defendant was compelled to operate a vehicle due to an emergency or to prevent any type of harm that he or his family members could have suffered.

Another argument is duress.  This is suitable for cases where the defendant was forced to drive to prevent a fatal incident or a serious injury.  Entrapment is another option but a rarely used one.  This is relevant to cases where there is proof that an officer asked the defendant to drink and then drive.

The most common argument of defendants is the theory of “mistake of fact.”  This pertains to a possible error on the part of the testing officer.  The defendant argues that a procedural error led to a wrong BAC level finding.  Another common argument is “involuntary intoxication.”  This pertains to the lack of intent to consume alcohol on the part of the defendant.  He could present proof that a third party made him ingest alcohol without his consent and knowledge.

Typically, the facts of the case will be the deciding factor in the preparation of a DWI defense.  The statute in Manchester, New Hampshire and the rest of the state entails rules and legal theories on DWI defense different from other states.  For this reason, it is best to consult drunk- driving attorneys familiar with the said statute.

About the Author

Ryan Russman

Attorney Ryan Russman has dedicated his career to fighting for the rights of New Hampshire citizens. His practice, based in Exeter (Rockingham County) New Hampshire, is limited to cases involving DWI and DUI, other motor vehicle and criminal cases, and many cases involving personal injury. He is, however, best known as one of New Hampshire's leading legal authorities on DWI.


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