Numerous factors influence what penalties you face for allegedly getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink. Impaired driving charges are often misdemeanor charges under New Hampshire law. There is the risk of jail time and fines, but the penalties won’t be as significant as they would be for a felony charge.
Drivers will face progressive penalties that increase with each additional offense in the future. There could also be extenuating circumstances that make the charges or penalties in one case more severe than in a standard drunk driving case.
Under New Hampshire law, there are usually two scenarios in which someone will face felony charges for a drunk driving incident. What are those two scenarios?
When they have 3 or more previous impaired driving convictions
Progressive sentencing is a policy that aims to reduce recidivism or the tendency of those convicted of a specific criminal offense to re-offend. The penalties someone faces for drunk driving allegations increase with each subsequent offense.
By the third time the state charges someone with drunk driving, they will face a Class A misdemeanor charge, which is the most serious kind of misdemeanor. First and second offenses typically result in Class B misdemeanor charges.
A fourth offense will then become a felony. The possible penalties for a fourth DUI charge in New Hampshire include a mandatory 180 days in jail and a potential lifetime suspension of your license. Drivers can petition to regain their driving privileges after they have not had a license for seven years after a fourth DWI/DUI conviction.
When the state charges them with an aggravated offense
Certain circumstances can increase the severity of a drunk driving offense. Having minor children in the vehicle is one such scenario. Having an extremely high blood alcohol concentration is another. Going well over the speed limit, trying to elude police or causing a crash that injured someone else will also increase the severity of a drunk driving charge in New Hampshire.
Understanding what makes a DWI/DUI charge a felony in New Hampshire could help you plan your defense and employ the right approach to a misdemeanor charge that could lead to felony charges later.