2013 DWI Sentencing - Chaos In The Courts

Effective January 1, 2013, a new legislative enactment instilled chaos and confusion in the sentencing process for individuals convicted of driving while intoxicated in New Hampshire.

The new DWI law, “House Bill 283,” eliminates the familiar “Impaired Driver Intervention Programs” that have been mandated for several decades for people convicted of driving while intoxicated as a first offense. These 20 hour treatment programs were offered by a multitude of private agencies operating throughout the State. For decades, the DWI sentencing process was simple: pay your fine, enroll in an IDIP, and do any aftercare mandated by the IDIP (generally, individual counseling for those whose history or psychological test results show some kind of “red flag”).

Apparently, this process was seen as far too straightforward by NH’s legislature, as it presented a genuine danger that a drunk driving first offender, with no other criminal record, may restore her license in a relatively short period of time!

Results of the 2013 NH DWI Enactment

As a result, the legislature in its infinite wisdom has now mandated a process of byzantine complexity, involving a “screening” within just 14 days of last court appearance, a “Impaired Driver Education Program,” referral for unspecified “treatment,” and the possibility of ignition interlock for first offenders. The legislature has also presumptively disqualified all of the former “IDIP” programs and required them to prepare elaborate applications seeking approval to recast themselves as an “Impaired Driver Care Management Program” (IDCMP) - an acronym that is positively Orwellian. Impaired Driver Ineffective and Orwellian Treatment Industrial Complex (IDIOTIC) would have been more like it!

Practical Implications of the New DWI Rules

This legislation has instilled chaos and confusion in the court system. For example, a DWI client, who lives north of Concord, would have preferred to attend the former IDIP located in Boscawen. This client has lost his license and has no obvious way to get to a program in Manchester or Salem, New Hampshire. However, the Boscawen program, which was well-regarded, has been shut down and the Department of Health and Human Services has not approved an application for it to become an IDCMP. Somehow, this person who has no driver’s license will now have to find their way to Manchester for a post-sentencing process that is completely open-ended and discretionary – there is no way of predicting how many trips and how many hours and how many weeks or months the process may take to complete.

In my next installment, I will provide some tips and pointers for entrepreneurs, savvy to the impaired driver sentencing industrial complex, who are considering opening up their own “IDCMP” in order to make some cash off our government’s abuse of the citizenry. If you have other questions for a DWI defense attorney, contact me to discuss them.

Categories: DWI News