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When does a New Hampshire DWI charge become a felony?

On behalf of Starbranch Law posted in blog on Wednesday, April 25, 2018.

Any criminal charge is a serious concern, but those that are felonies usually carry the harshest penalties. If you find yourself or a loved one facing a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge, you may want to educate yourself more about how New Hampshire handles these cases. Every state has its own set of rules relating to impaired driving, with different potential penalties and charges for special circumstances.

Most people facing a first or second DWI offense in New Hampshire will face misdemeanor charges, although those also become more severe with subsequent offenses. Even third DWI charges for an individual driver may remain misdemeanors. However, there are circumstances in which a DWI charge will become a felony charge in New Hampshire. Understanding these are important, because New Hampshire has harsh penalties for these charges.

Fourth DWI offenses are felony offenses

If you have multiple offenses of the same nature, the courts can look at that when determining how to charge and sentence you. The law often limits how many years an offense can impact future sentencing. In New Hampshire, for DWI and other alcohol offenses, that lookback period lasts for ten years. Any subsequent DWI offense in the decade after your first will get treated more harshly as a result of the previous offense.

If you find yourself facing a fourth offense for driving while intoxicated or impaired in a 10 year period, you will typically see felony charges brought against you as a result. You could face a fine of at least $1,000, as well as loss of your license for anywhere from 18 to 24 months. You could also end up in jail for as long as seven years.

Causing bodily harm to yourself or another could mean a felony

Under New Hampshire law, if you get into a crash while under the influence and you cause serious bodily harm to yourself or another person, you can face felony charges. Typically, these charges are called Aggravated DWI charges, which are a Class B felony. Like a fourth offense, this charge carries up to seven years in prison and a fine of between $1,000 and $4,000.

Even if you crash your vehicle and only sustain injuries yourself, the end consequence could be a felony. Felony DWI charges are serious because they can haunt you for life. Many employers have policies against retaining or hiring workers convicted of a felony. If your employer finds out, you could lose your job. Even if you don’t get fired for the charges, you could still end up unemployed if losing your license means you can’t make it to work reliably.

DWI charges are serious, whether they are misdemeanor or felony charges. Taking them seriously and informing yourself about potential consequences and options for a defense can help you prepare for the future and put this situation behind you.

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Harry N. Starbranch
Harry Starbranch
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    Nathaniel Walker House
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