Daniel Hynes

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Hardship bill passes NH house

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New Hampshire House Passes New Bill For First Offense DWI Convictions

On January 29th, 2014, the NH House of Representatives passed Bill HB 496 by a voice vote. This new bill now authorizes defendants convicted of a first time DWI offense to receive a limited license. If their application is approved, then they will be legally allowed to drive to rehabilitation, to and from work, and to receive medical services of treatment.

Under the new HB 496 law, in order to receive a temporary driver’s license, convicted motorists will be required to pay a monetary application fee of $50.00 and to petition a New Hampshire judge. If their request is approved, then the motorist is mandated, at their own expense, to have an ignition interlock device installed in any motor vehicle they drive.

These new temporary driving privileges will enable offenders to avoid lost time at work due to an inability to access transportation. However, in order to receive this new privilege, strict guidelines must be followed. Per the recommendations of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, the bill should be passed, 16-1, with an amendment. If a defendant is convicted of violating this new privilege, then they will be treated and charged as though they were driving on a revoked license.

Just last week, executive director of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, Pat Sullivan, stated the organization he represents strongly opposes the bill because it will be difficult for police officers to enforce new laws that enable motorists to drive only part time. Sullivan called for the state to pass stricter DWI laws for offenders, rather than weaker ones, especially in light of the number of DWI related fatalities New Hampshire saw on their roadways last year.

In 2013, the number of DWI related fatalities in New Hampshire reached a new high of 133. This was the highest number reported within the last five years. Per a statement released by the New Hampshire Driving Toward Zero Coalition, nearly 37% of all fatal automobile accidents in New Hampshire each year are alcohol related.

The newly passed bill was originally proposed by Democratic Representative Steve Shurtleff, who was appointed a legislative champion of 2013 by Mothers Against Drunk Driving in New Hampshire. Mothers Against Drunk Driving has championed the new bill because it increases the use of ignition interlock devices for motorists convicted of drunk driving.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released a report that discovered ignition interlock devices has assisted DWI defendants to reduce their chances of becoming repeat offenders by approximately 67% when compared to motorists who simply had their licenses suspended. Interlock ignition devices can be used in real time, and if a motorist’s breath falls outside the acceptable parameters, state police are instantly notified.

If you have been charged with a DWI in the state of New Hampshire, contact one of our NH DWI attorneys to set up a free consultation to discuss the details surrounding your case. You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.  

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