In New Hampshire, a person who operates a vehicle while impaired can face charges for either DWI or aggravated DWI. Aggravated DWI charges result in steeper penalties and occur when the driver is under the influence and certain factors exist that make the crime especially reckless. One of those factors is operating with an extremely high blood alcohol concentration or BAC. BAC refers to the amount of alcohol that a person has in their blood within two hours of driving. In New Hampshire, a person can be charged with aggravated DWI relating to high BAC under RSA 265-A:3 if they drive, operate or temp operate an OHRV, a vehicle or a boat “while having an alcohol concentration of 0.16 or more”.
High BAC aggravated DWI is a relatively common charge. Any driver with a BAC of 0.16 will likely be charged with aggravated DWI. The Watertown Daily Times reports that a man in Merrimack, NH was arrested at the end of February this year when he was spotted by a Jefferson County police officer driving recklessly. According to the article, 39-year-old Shawn Colburn was stopped after the officer witnessed him failing to maintain his lane. When stopped, Colburn admitted that he had a few beers and was driving back to his hotel. He submitted to a breath test which showed that he had an alcohol concentration of 0.21. This resulted in Colburn being charged with aggravated DWI.
The reason that a DWI offense involving a high BAC often leads to steeper penalties is because, statistically, drivers with high alcohol concentrations are more likely to cause a fatal crashes. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly one third of fatal motor vehicle accidents result from alcohol impaired drivers. Additionally, the data shows that the higher a driver's BAC, the more likely they are to cause an accident. Therefore, New Hampshire lawmakers feel that these drivers should be more harshly punished than other DWI drivers forcing them to be subject to stricter penalties including longer periods of license suspension and installation of ignition interlock devices.
The CDC reports that the highest number of fatal vehicle accidents by alcohol impaired drivers involves drivers with BACs of 0.13 to 0.21. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that in 2009, 56% of drivers involved in alcohol related fatal crashes had a BAC of 0.15 or greater. In New Hampshire, 15% of all fatal accidents involved drivers with the BAC of 0.15 or more.
Anyone facing aggravated DWI charges should contact a New Hampshire DUI lawyer right away. The penalties for an aggravated DWI conviction can include a fine of at least $1,000, 14 days in jail, probation, installation of an ignition interlock device, license suspension of 18 months to 2 years, substance abuse evaluation and counseling and potential random drug or alcohol testing. The best way to avoid these penalties is to fight your charges with an attorney who can help you build a strong defense. At Russman Law, our lawyers will work with you to get the best possible results.