NH Limited Driving Privileges After DWI Conviction: Cost/Benefit Analysis

In 2016, RSA 263:57-b allowed certain drivers convicted of DWI in New Hampshire to seek a hardship or cinderella license 45 days after conviction. On its face, this seems like a good idea because prior to this law, no driver could regain their license until at least 90 days after their DWI conviction. Several prerequisites exist to obtain limited driving privileges: the conviction must be for a first-offense and cannot involve a commercial motor vehicle. New Hampshire law requires a 9-month driver's license suspension for a first offense DWI. Six months of that license suspension may be suspended if the client completes the statutory requirements including mandatory substance use evaluation and potential treatment.

The hidden cost of this statute lies in the requirement that the driver install an interlock device for 1 year. When you factor in that the limited driving petition is unlikely to be ruled upon by a Court on exactly the 45th day after conviction, drivers are likely to gain about a month of driving that was previously unavailable. Draeger and Intoxalock are the two interlock companies currently operating in New Hampshire. Interlock devices typically cost approximately $80-$90 per month. Every person's situation differs, but it is important to know that if limited driving privileges are granted, those privileges are locked in for one year. The requirement to abide by and pay for the interlock device maintains throughout the year.

Proof of a SR-22 and treatment compliance are required to petition the Court for limited driving privileges. You also must prove why you need this license and meet criteria to drive. Violation of limited driving privileges will result in revocation of that license, prosecution for driving after suspension, and may carry additional jail time. Under RSA 263:57-b(I), you must fall in to a group below to ask the Court for a hardship license:

(a) That the person must operate a motor vehicle as a requisite of the person's occupation or employment.
(b) That the person must operate a motor vehicle to seek employment or to get to and from a place of employment.
(c) That the person must operate a motor vehicle to get to or from an alcohol or drug treatment or rehabilitation program.
(d) That the person or a member of the person's immediate family requires medical treatment on a regular basis and the person must operate a motor vehicle in order that the treatment may be obtained.
(e) That the person must operate a motor vehicle to continue his or her education.
(f) That the person must operate a motor vehicle to attend job training.

So, you should consider your long-term financial, employment, and personal circumstances in deciding whether to try your DWI case, plead guilty, or apply for limited driving privileges. Consult with our DWI attorneys at Reis and O'Keefe to address questions on DWIs, driver's licenses, and interlock devices.

Categories: DWI

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Kevin O'Keefe has represented thousands of clients in all areas of criminal law. Before establishing Reis & O'Keefe, Kevin was an attorney with the New Hampshire Public Defender.
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James Reis started out at the New Hampshire Public Defender in 2000. Throughout the years, Jim has steadfastly protected the rights of nearly four thousand clients.
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