Have you ever been in a parking lot when suddenly a loud, continuous alarm began to sound from someone's vehicle? In rare circumstances, it might have been an unwelcome party trying break into a particular car. More times than not, however, a vehicle owner likely hit the wrong button on his or her key fob, thus resonating high, audible tones through the air. Some New Hampshire travelers even use this handy feature to locate their own cars when they forget where they parked.
With the development of new technology aimed to reduce the number of drivers acting under the influence of alcohol on the road, you might have heard another type of car alarm as well. In this state and many others, if you're convicted for drunk driving, and fulfill a required license suspension, you're required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle when your driving privileges are restored.
Ignition - what?
An ignition interlock device is an automated system that, when used properly, can measure a person's blood alcohol content level through a breath test. The installation of this particular device takes place in the ignition system of your car. Before you drive, you blow into the device. If you test clean, your car will start as usual and off you may go to wherever it is you are going. If the machine registers alcohol in your bloodstream, the ignition system in your car goes into immediate lockdown.
The programming of an ignition interlock device allows it to work en route; that is, during your course of travel. If the machine detects alcohol in your blood, your lights will begin flashing and a loud alarm will continuously sound until the car is either off or you blow into the device again and test free of alcohol.
Is an IID an automatic penalty for DUI conviction?
Every state has its own regulations and laws regarding driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The following applies in New Hampshire:
- Anyone convicted of drunk driving who has completed a required license suspension must have an ignition interlock device installed in his or her vehicle.
- The Impaired Driver Care Management Program helps those convicted for DUI get their lives back on track and receive any appropriate recovery treatments as necessary. Anyone facing a first offense is required to participate in the program.
- Those guilty of a third conviction face a minimum jail sentence of 180 days.
- A third time offender also incurs an indefinite driver's license suspension. (After seven years, the court may remove the penalty.)
- Various fines from $500 to $750 might be included in sentencing of a DUI conviction.
If you face drunk driving charges, it doesn't necessarily mean you will be convicted. Much depends on the details of your particular situation, as well as the type of defense you present in court.
In case you're wondering about defense options
If you are going to court on drunk driving charges, you typically have several ways to address the situation. You can act on your own behalf to address law enforcement agents and court officials or you may act alongside skilled and experienced representation (often the best choice) to increase your chances of obtaining a positive outcome.
There may be several strategies an experienced attorney would want to implement to fight against DUI charges in court, including but not limited to the following:
- A person who believes he or she was not intoxicated while driving may claim the facts (as asserted by law enforcement) are mistaken.
- If a person drove while intoxicated because a threat of force was used to make him or her do so, a duress defense may be presented to the court.
- If a person was not aware that there was alcohol in drinks he or she consumed, an involuntary intoxication approach might be taken to fight the charges.
Like most others in New Hampshire who have no background in law, you might be unaware of how best to proceed to minimize the potential negative impact of your situation. Retaining assistance from an experienced criminal defense attorney is often the wisest choice in such circumstances.