Drunk Driving Laws: Impaired Driver Care Management Programs

This is the first of a three-part installment on IDCMPs as they relate to NH drunk driving laws.

Under New Hampshire drunk driving laws, any person convicted of DWI, whether by guilty plea or after a trial, has to complete the Impaired Driver Care Management Program, or IDCMP, as a condition of license restoration. And, if you don't meet a series of very tight deadlines, you won't be able to restore your license within the minimum period set by the sentencing court.

Birth of the IDCMP

IDCMPs came into existence on January 1, 2013, when a new drunk driving law in NH made substantial changes to the DWI sentencing process. Prior to 2013, first offenders had to take a 20 hour course called the Impaired Driver Intervention Program (IDIP), offered by private programs. Second offenders had to take a 7 day residential program called the Multiple Offender Program, or MOP, which was run by the State. Third offenders had to do a 28 day treatment program through a private facility.

One Size Fits All Sentencing

As of January, 2013, there are no more 7 day residential programs and no more 28 day treatment programs mandated by statute. Instead, everybody has to complete an IDCMP. Here's a website that summarizes the requirements, and costs, of the IDCMP. Here is a list of the seven private providers that offer the IDCMP.

Onerous Deadlines

A person convicted of DWI first offense under NH drunk driving laws must obtain a screening evaluation within 14 days of conviction. This is a rigid deadline which is difficult for clients and program providers alike - for example, the Amethyst Program in Epping, NH says they will see anyone on the 14th day, even without an appointment (if its a business day).

If the screening is positive for a substance use disorder - and screenings run positive for about 2/3ds of all clients across all IDCMPs, according to anecdotal reports - then the person must obtain another evaluation, called a full substance use disorder evaluation, within 30 days of sentencing. This evaluation prescribes "aftercare" for the person.

Serious DWI Offenses - No Screening Needed

Under-21 DWIs, Aggravated DWIs, Subsequent Offense DWIs, and Felony DWIs all skip the 14 day screening and simply must schedule the substance use disorder evaluation, within 30 days of release from jail (or 30 days after sentencing for under 21 DWIs).

Miss a Deadline, Triple Your License Suspension

Most DWI sentences (for a 1st offense) begin with a longer license suspension, at minimum 9 months, which is then reduced by 6 months by the Court if certain IDCMP requirements are met. In particular, the screening within 14 days, and the full substance use disorder evaluation within 30 days, are deadlines that must be met, unless a waiver can be obtained from the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services.

So, if you scheduled your screening for day 14, and then illness, a snowstorm, death in the family, etc causes you to miss that appointment, you may have just tripled your license suspension (from 90 days to 9 months), unless you can obtain a waiver.

Consumer Choice Gone Wild

At any point - any juncture in the process - a person can stop participating in one IDCMP and enroll in another. For example, a person screened positive, who had a bad experience at the 14 day screening, can jump ship and schedule the full substance use disorder evaluation at a different IDCMP. This might cause overlapping costs but no one is forced to stick it out with a single IDCMP.

Stay Tuned

In the next installment of our review of drunk driving laws in New Hampshire, we will look at the testing done in the screening and full substance abuse disorder evaluation.