An ABC television affiliate in Upshur County, Texas reports this week that a 53-year old man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his 4th DWI.
Yes, 20 years in prison for a DWI that did not involve a traffic accident, nobody hurt, no victim.
This is an example of our nation's insane policies toward criminal sentencing that have resulted in the US holding the disgraceful title of highest incarceration rate in the world.
Could this happen in NH? The answer is no. A 4th DWI is a significant event because a 4th DWI is chargeable as a class B felony in NH. However, the maximum sentence for a class B felony in most instances is 3-1/2 to 7 years in state prison. You can read more about DWI penalties in NH here.
Also, although the issue hasn't been decided by the State's highest Court, most judges hold that all 4 DWIs have to have occurred within a 10-year period, which (fortunately) is rare.
In some other States, such as Massachusetts, there is a "lifetime lookback" which means that any DWI counts as a prior offense to enhance the penalties for a new DWI, regardless of how many years or decades have passed since the prior DWI.
-- Ted Lothstein
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