I Was Arrested For a DWI, But a Court Date Hasn’t Been Set. How Long Do Police Officers Have to Charge Me With a DWI?
When a New Hampshire motorist is arrested for and charged with a DWI (driving while intoxicated), it does not mean that they are automatically charged with the offense. The police officer who pulls over, detains, and arrests the motorist for a DWI must first write a formal report and forward it to the local district attorney’s office in the community where the arrest occurred. The report is then forwarded to the staff of the DA’s office who is responsible for writing it up and then filing formal charges.
The final say on whether or not a charge is filed lies with the deputy district attorney. In many instances, a deputy district attorney’s office is deluged with filing requests, which causes their office to become backlogged. For the arrestee, this means that it might be a few weeks or months before the charges against them become official. In the state of New Hampshire, your local district attorney’s office has up to one year from the date of your arrest to formally file charges. This time period is referred to as the statute of limitations. For more serious offenses, the statute of limitations can be as long as three years.
If you were arrested, cited, and then released (and were not bailed out of jail), a formal complaint against them must be filed, in some instances, within a 25 day period. However, many judges elect not to dismiss a case even if this rule is not followed. Most states, including New Hampshire, rely upon the one year of statute of limitations. If the district attorney’s office fails to file charges against within the statute of limitations, then the court will lose its jurisdiction over you.
Felony DWI Charges
The statute of limitations for felony DWI charges are significantly longer than those of misdemeanor DWI charges. If additional criminal offenses were involved, such as an individual being killed resulting from a motorist driving while intoxicated, additional charges, like vehicular manslaughter, will be applied. If you are charged with these additional offenses, the statute of limitations for the prosecuting attorney to file charges becomes even longer. Felony DWI charges are comprised of DWI arrests that include aggravating factors. Examples of the most common aggravating factors include:
§ Causing bodily harm or death
§ Having an extremely high blood alcohol content
§ Having a minor in the vehicle while driving intoxicated
§ Having previous DWI charges on your record
§ Evading or resisting arrest
It is imperative to be aware that skipping or missing court dates or evading law enforcement officials for the purpose of running out the statute of limitations will not protect you from prosecution. A deputy district attorney may still file formal charges against you even if you have not been formally charged with an offense, so long as it is done within the time frame allotted by New Hampshire law.
New Hampshire’s Penalties for a DWI
Driving while intoxicated is a criminal offense that New Hampshire’s government takes quite seriously, and new legislation has recently been enacted to create harsher punishments for those who are convicted of it. If you are convicted of a first time DWI offense, your punishment will include:
§ A minimum of 10 days in jail
§ Monetary fines ranging from $500.00 to $750.00
§ Suspension of your driver’s license for a minimum of 9 months to upwards of 2 years
§ Required completion of an Impaired Driver Care Management Program
§ Possible installation of an ignition interlock device
§ Required SR22 filing for 3 years
The penalties become much harsher for subsequent offenses. It is important to be aware that this list does not include all of the penalties you can face if convicted of a DWI.
If you have been arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated in the Commonwealth of New Hampshire, contact our law offices immediately to speak with one of our experienced NH DWI lawyers.