Avoid a DWI in New Hampshire (5 Things You Need to Know about DWI)

To avoid a DWI in New Hampshire, you should know at least these five things.


I.   DWI in New Hampshire
II.  Penalties
III.The Costs
IV. Sobriety Tests
V.  Avoid Arrest

I. DWI in New Hampshire

It’s illegal to drive while intoxicated. That’s generally called DWI in New Hampshire. But often it’s called DUI (driving under the influence). It’s driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. For commercial drivers it’s 0.04% or more. And for drivers under age 21, including adults 18 through 20, it’s 0.02%.

New Hampshire has zero tolerance for drinking by those under 21. But it doesn’t insist on zero BAC (0.00%). That’s because the state wants to reduce the chances of falsely convicting innocent young drivers.

dwi in new hampshireThe logic is sound. First, “breathalyzers” or alcohol breath testers aren’t reliable. In fact, they don’t really measure BAC. (That requires analyzing an actual sample of blood.) They only estimate it. That’s why not all states permit them.

Another reason is that many medications and foods contain alcohol. Even baked goods such as bread do. A third reason is that everyone of every age produces alcohol naturally in their bodies. Naturally, this includes all drivers under age 21.

Obviously, not demanding zero BAC is wise public policy.

Arrests for Legal BACs

However, drivers may be arrested at BACs within the legal limits. All that’s needed is a police belief that the driver is too intoxicated to operate the vehicle.

This is because some people are intoxicated at lower levels than most. Unfortunately, diabetic symptoms often very closely mimic intoxication. No one wants an alcohol-abstaining diabetic to be falsely penalized for DWI. Other medical conditions also closely resemble intoxication.

On the other hand, many people are not intoxicated with BACs well above the legal limit. However, they can’t to use this fact in their defense.

II. Penalties

The exact penalties imposed for DWI in New Hampshire vary. Many factors cause these differences. They include such things as these.

  • dwi in new hampshire

    Please, no! Not her!

    Driver’s Age.

  • Type of license.
  • Estimated BAC.
  • The impairing substance(s)
  • Any prior DWIs.
  • Consequences of the DWI, if any (property damage, injuries, etc.)
  • Any minors in the vehicle.
  • Skill of driver’s attorney.
  • Characteristics of driver (demeanor in court, race, socio-economic status, etc.)
  • Beliefs and personality of judge hearing the case. That’s just the luck of the draw.

Some penalties are mandated, others are within ranges, and others are purely up to the judge. These are the penalty guidelines for a DWI in New Hampshire.

First DWI

• License suspension for nine months to two years.
• A fine of up to $500.
• Judge may order completion of an alcohol or drug treatment program.
• Also, judge may order random BAC or other tests.
dwi in new hampshire To reinstate license, offender complete an impaired driver intervention program at offender’s expense.

Second DWI

• Mandatory imprisonment for ten days.
• License revocation for at least three years.
• A fine of up to $750.
• Judge may order completion of an alcohol or drug treatment program.
• Also, judge may order random BAC or other tests.
• To reinstate license, offender must complete a seven-day multiple DWI offender intervention detention center program. It’s at the offender’s expense.

Third DWI

dwi in new hampshireMandatory imprisonment for at least 180 days.
• License revocation for at least five years.
• A fine of at least $750.
• Judge may order completion of an alcohol or drug treatment program.
• Also, judge may order random BAC or other tests.
• After imprisonment, a 28 day residential treatment program paid for by the offender.

People may be convicted of DWI in New Hampshire even if not driving. For example, if they attempt to drive. Or if they are simply in physical control of a vehicle while it’s parked.

III. The Costs

Legal Defense

Getting charged with an DWI in New Hampshire is very expensive. It is elsewhere as well. And this is true even if you’re innocent. Of course, it’s even more expensive if a judge or jury convicts you.

The cost of a legal DWI defense is very hard to estimate. That’s because the complexity of cases varies widely. And more complex cases take more of a lawyer’s time. That means more money. Its obvious that simply asking lawyers how much they charge per hour isn’t helpful. It’s like asking a car dealer how much it costs to buy a car.

dwi in new hampshireIt’s wise to select an experienced lawyer who specializes in DWI defense. The knowledge and experience of such a lawyer is invaluable. In fact, such a lawyer may take less time.

Other Costs

There are a number of other costs. They may include fines, court costs, property damage, medical expenses, possible loss of employment, increased insurance rates, and other expenses. The total can be high. It can easily be more than lawyer fees and expenses. Therefore, the total cost of an DWI can easily be tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition, there are non-money costs as well. They may include pain and suffering, feelings of guilt, embarrassment, driving license suspension, loss of friendships, and many others.

Knowing the high costs of a DWI is very useful. It’s a great motivation. That can help us try to avoid getting one.

IV. Sobriety Tests

Chemical Tests

dwi in new hampshireNew Hampshire requires drivers suspected of DWI to submit to alcohol breath tests (estimators). That, in spite of their scientifically proven unreliability.

However, all drivers have a Constitutional right to decline taking a chemical BAC test. In spite of that, the state punishes those who use their right. A first use of the right causes an automatic liscense suspension for 180 days. If the right is used on another occasion, the punishment is an automatic suspension for two years. And the driver can still be convicted for DWI and receive additional penalties.

Field Sobriety Tests

However, no state requires drivers to take a field sobriety test. And that’s good. Simply put, field sobriety tests lack validity. That’s why about one-third of completely sober people with a 0.00% BAC fail them. And they do so under ideal conditions.

dwi in new hampshireNaturally, taking a field sobriety test on an uneven highway shoulder after being pulled over by police and being very nervous is far from ideal. So the “real world” failure rate for completely sober people must be much higher.

Understandably, lawyers strongly urge drivers never to submit to any field sobriety test. On the other hand, police want suspects to take them. They often falsely insist the law requires it. It doesn’t. Or they say that passing it proves you’re innocent. It doesn’t.

An officer who pulls over a driver for suspected drinking and driving is conducting a criminal investigation. The officer may legally lie to you. Remember that if you are a suspect in a crime, the police officer is your adversary.

Discover much more about field sobriety tests. You won’t like what you learn. But knowledge really is power. Also, learn What to Do If You Are Pulled Over.

 V. Avoid Arrest

Obviously, one way to avoid a DWI is by abstaining from alcohol. Another choice is to use a Designated Driver or use public transportation.

Most drivers enjoy drinking alcohol, at least on occasion. They may lack a Designated Driver or access to public transportation. And they may be unable to afford Uber or Lynks.

So how can drivers drink before driving, yet avoid arrest? The answer is simple and legal. Maintain a low BAC.

These guidelines can help keep a low BAC.

  • dwi in new hampshire

    Standard Drinks

    Remember that standard drinks of beer, wine and spirits have equivalent amounts of pure alcohol.

  • Have no more than one standard drink each hour. Preferably less.
  • Avoid non-standard drinks. This makes it easier to keep track of alcohol intake.
  • Eat and snack while drinking. This is very important!
  • Have a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones.
  • Accept an alcoholic drink only when it fits your consumption schedule.
  • Never engage in any drinking game.
  • Don’t try to “keep up” with the drinking of others.
Arrested for DWI in New Hampshire?

This website strongly opposes impaired driving. But it also supports the U.S. Constitution and the rights it grants both the innocent and the guilty.

If you’re charged with a DWI in New Hampshire, contact a lawyer immediately. The attorney should specialize in drinking and driving cases. Better yet is one whose practice is limited to such cases.

The New Hampshire Bar (lawyer) Association has a free lawyer referral service.  Also, the  Martingale guide offers a free on-line database with lawyers by specialty and geographic location. In addition, it provides free client and peer evaluations.

Don’t rely on this or any other site for legal information.


Brezina, C. I’ve Gotten a DWI/DUI, Now What? NY: Rosen, 2016.

CDC. Teen Drinking and Driving. Atlanta: 2012. (website)

___. Impaired Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)

Gillespie, L. Police Encounters. Know Your Rights. Gillespie, 2014.

Hudson, T. The Drinker’s Guide to Driving: The Secrets of DUI, From One of America’s Top DUI Lawyers. Cork: BookBaby, 2013.

Keech, C. & Fairchild, C. Dude, What are My Rights? Kansas City, MO: Keechild, 2014.

Lauterjung, L. DUI law for Drivers. How to Avoid DUI Arrests and How to Handle a DUI Stop. Lauterjung, 2012.

Nevels, T. Avoid DWI and Marijuana Charges. Cork: BookBaby, 2015.

NHTSA. Drunk Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)

Sagsletter, R. Rights During a Police Stop / DUI in the United States. What Officers Can and Cannot Do. Denver, CO: Outskirts, 2012.