Daniel Hynes

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What is a Per Se DWI charge

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What In the Heck Is a Per Se DWI?

In the legal arena, you’ll often hear the phrase “per se DWI” tossed around. Hailing from the Latin language, the phrase “per se” is translated as “by itself”. Essentially, it means the amount of alcohol a motorist has in their bloodstream is enough to constitute a crime in and of itself without the need for further evidence.

Within the state of New Hampshire, per se laws are applied only to alcohol related cases. This is because there is a direct correlation between the case and a suspect’s blood alcohol concentration. An individual who operates a motor vehicle with a BAC level that is over the legal limit would be considered guilty of a per se DWI. When a suspect undergoes any type of sobriety test, the police officer conducting the test is gauging how much alcohol the suspect has in their system. Under the guise of per se DWI laws, the only required evidence to prove that a crime has occurred is the fact that the suspect’s BAC levels were higher than the legal limit.

New Hampshire’s per se laws were enacted as a method of ensuring it is illegal for a motorist, with a specific amount of alcohol in their bloodstream, to operate a motor vehicle, regardless of how much or how little the alcohol has affected them. When a motorist has been accused of a per se DWI violation, their ability to operate a motor vehicle is not what is being placed on trial.

New Hampshire’s DWI Per Se Laws

Pursuant to SA 265-A:2, I(b), any individual who operates an automobile and is older than the legal age for legal alcohol consumption (21 years), can potentially be charged with a DWI if he or she has a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher. This is the legal limit established for all 50 states in the U.S. A defendant who has been accused of a DWI under this statute is facing per se DWI criminal charges. Under per se laws, all the prosecution will need to do in order to prove their case is:

§  The defendant was attempting to operate, or was operating, a motor vehicle.

§  A sobriety test that demonstrated the defendant possessed a BAC level that was higher than .08%.

Juvenile Per Se DWIs

A motorist who is under the legal drinking age of 21 years will be subjected to harsher DWI laws and penalties. In accordance with RSA 265-A:2, I(b), a juvenile in the state of New Hampshire who operates an automobile with a BAC level of .02% or higher can be charged with a juvenile per se DWI. In order to prove this type of case, there are three essential elements that a prosecutor must demonstrate:

§  The defendant is no older than the legal drinking age of 21 years.

§  The defendant was attempting to operate, or was operating, a motor vehicle.

§  A sobriety test demonstrated that the suspect had a BAC level that was higher than .02%.

DWI Probationary License

If a New Hampshire motorist is convicted of a DWI, the individual will lose their driver’s license. When the defendant becomes eligible to have their driver’s license reinstated, he or she will be provided with a probationary license for a period of 5 years. This type of driver’s license is quite similar to a standard driver’s license with the exception that a motorist only has to have a BAC level of .03% to be charged with a DWI – rather than the usual .08% standard.

New Hampshire DWI Lawyers

An individual who has been accused of an NH per se DWI will often feel as though they have been convicted regardless of what a sobriety test indicates because they possessed a BAC level that was higher than the legal limit. While this is certainly true in some regards, an experienced New Hampshire DWI attorney can still do quite a lot for their client. In some instances, the results of a sobriety test can be challenged. Often times, BAC levels are determined through the use of a Breathalyzer test. Such devices frequently produce inaccurate results if the test was not administered properly. Likewise, Breathalyzer tests require proper calibration and will occasionally produce inaccurate results depending upon when the defendant last had something to drink or eat.

A skilled DWI attorney can also push the prosecution to have the charges dismissed or reduced. If the arresting officer violated the defendant’s legal rights during the arrest process or made some other type of mistake, the resulting charges could be dismissed. Moreover, having experienced legal representation will assist a defendant in making informed decisions and in effectively handling each step of the legal process. For example, an NH DWI lawyer can ensure that their client receives their driver’s license back as quickly as possible and can request an administrative hearing in order to combat an immediate license suspension that often accompanies a DWI arrest.

If you have been charged with a per se DWI in the state of New Hampshire, contact our law firm today. Each of our DWI attorneys is dedicated to working with our clients to achieve the results they want. Your initial consultation is free, so contact us today.

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Guest Thursday, 11 August 2022