Ryan Russman Reveiws New Hampshire’s DWI Laws

Posted by Ryan Russman | Apr 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

Mothers Against Drunk Driving or MADD is the number one nonprofit group in America that works to eliminate drunk driving. In 2006, MADD began a campaign to eliminate drunk driving which works to get states to enact laws that the group feels are the most effective at discouraging and preventing drunk drivers. Recently, the group released their 2014 Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving: Report to the Nation. This report talks about the changes that have been made in 2013 to DWI law as well as what further changes they would like to see.

The MADD report also looks at all 50 states and talks about the effectiveness of the DWI laws in each. There are five important factors that the group feels makes the biggest impact on drunk driving. The report goes state-by-state and rates each's DWI laws based on how many of the recommended practices are in place. For each that currently exists in the state, a star is awarded. States with all five policies in action are considered five-star states. Currently, there are only 11 five star sates in the country. Though New Hampshire has some of the toughest DWI laws in the country, it is listed as a three star state. The five DWI enforcement policies that MADD recommends includes the following:

Ignition Interlock Devices

MADD recommends that ignition interlock installation be a penalty for all DWI offenders. The group, as well as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Transportation Safety Board (TSB), feels that interlock devices are the best way to prevent repeat DWI offenses. They push states to require all DWI offenders to install these devices that make a driver give a breath sample before their vehicle can be started. New Hampshire courts do penalize DWI offenders with ignition interlock devices but, currently, only those with prior DWI convictions are subject to their installation. Because of this, MADD did not award the state a star for interlock device installation laws.

Sobriety Checkpoints

MADD and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believe that sobriety checkpoints are a cost-effective way of catching drunk drivers and increasing awareness that DWI laws are enforced. The use of checkpoints works when police set up a roadblock in order to randomly check drivers for signs of impairment. Some believe that these checkpoints are unconstitutional because they violate a person's right to unreasonable search and seizure. In fact, checkpoints are illegal in some states. However, MADD feels that they are necessary part of DWI enforcement. New Hampshire was awarded a star because the state currently allows these checkpoint as a form of DWI enforcement, though only with advanced approval.

Administrative License Revocation

When a person in New Hampshire is accused of DWI, they can be subject to administrate license suspension in two circumstances. The first is if they refuse to take a field sobriety test or a chemical sobriety test under New Hampshire implied consent laws. The second is if a chemical sobriety test shows that they have a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit. In these situations, the officer will confiscate the suspect's license and issue them a temporary license good for 30 days. After the 30 days, they will lose their license to administrative license suspension. MADD feels that this suspension is an effective way of preventing drunk driving fatalities and awarded New Hampshire a star for this law.

Child Endangerment

In some states, when a driver is found driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle they can also be charged with child endangerment. MADD believes that operating a vehicle while impaired with a child in the vehicle should be taken very seriously. New Hampshire was awarded a star for their child endangerment law because under the law, a DWI driver who transports a person under the age of 16 is subject to additional penalties.

No Refusal Events

Finally, New Hampshire was not awarded a star for non-refusal events. This means that when a person in the state refuses to take a sobriety test they will be penalized but not forced to submit a sample. In some states, when a DWI suspect refuses to take a sobriety test, police move to acquire a warrant in order to force them to give a blood sample in order to determine if they were impaired. Often, when a driver refuses a test there is little evidence against them that can convict them court. MADD feels that the best way to stop this is to not allow refusals.

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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