Is "Cinderella" coming to NH?

The #1 most frequently asked question by new DWI clients and potential DWI clients of my firm? Can I get a special permit to drive to work?

Sadly, for as long as I can remember (and I have been defending DWIs and criminal cases in NH for over 18 years), the answer is no. Just looking at the "M" States alone... Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri -- these are all examples of States that offer their citizens an opportunity to drive to and from work while working on their own rehabilitation from a DWI conviction -- but not New Hampshire. We don't have work permit licenses for anyone -- it's not only a problem for those suspended for DWI -- even people suspended for lesser offenses such as reckless driving, points, etc cannot get a work permit.

Over the last 18 years, I have represented many hundreds of clients charged with driving while intoxicated offenses in New Hampshire. Over that time, I have seen many families suffer because a person who made a single mistake, on a single occasion, could not get a work permit. I have seen many families suffer, even when the client was innocent of DWI, because the client lost her license for refusing a test. In this rural State, where public transportation is practically non-existent, people without a license cannot get to work. It's that simple.

Happily, the NH House is now looking at a Bill to all for some form of a work permit license (the news coverage talks of a "Cinderella" license but those are for daytime driving, whereas a work permit could cover second and third shift jobs as well).

I attended a Committee hearing on the Bill last month and testified in support of the Bill.

At the hearing, there was an amusing exchange where a lobbyist for law enforcement claimed that the average person arrested for DWI has committed the offense without getting caught something like 89 times. This law enforcement mouthpiece claimed that this phony statistic (how could such a thing possibly be measured?) shows that we need our DWI laws to have a deterrent effect, and that a "Cinderella" license would lessen the deterrent effect. Of course, certain lobbyists like to use phony statistics because if a statistic cannot be proven, its a good statistic, because that means it cannot be disproven.

From my own experience defending DWI cases in District and Superior Courts throughout New Hampshire, the truth is that many accused first-time offenders are in fact innocent of DWI, and of the remainder, most first-time offenders made a single mistake on a single occasion.

Anyway, after the lobbyist threw out the provocative phony statistic, another speaker pointed out that if even this phony statistic were to be true - that everyone accused of DWI commits the offense scores of times without getting caught - it would merely prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the DWI laws have no deterrent effect whatsoever.

So why not have pass the Cinderella law and actually help people and their families progress on the road to rehabilitation? --- Ted Lothstein