What To Do If You're Arrested For DWI In New Hampshire

Arrested for DUI


John Maher: Hi, I'm John Maher. Today, I'm here with Ted Lothstein of the law office of Lothstein Guerriero, with offices in Concord, and Keene, New Hampshire.

Lothstein Guerriero represents people who are charged with crimes throughout the state of New Hampshire, in both state and federal court, in trial courts and on appeal. Ted, in particular, focuses on cases involving drunk driving, also known as DUI, or DWI.

Today, we're going to be talking about what a person should do who has been arrested for DWI in New Hampshire. Welcome, Ted.

Ted Lothstein: Thank you, John.

John: Ted, what is the first thing a person should do after being charged with a DWI in New Hampshire?

Ted: We're talking about the person who has been released, and they are at home. For one thing, they should be looking at their bail conditions to make sure that they know what their responsibilities are going forward.

If they took a breath test, they should be taking their captured breath samples which would be provided in a package, and storing them safely until they see a lawyer ‑‑ indoors, on a shelf, out of reach of anybody who could tamper with it.

Obviously, do not open that package. It doesn't need to be refrigerated and by the same token should not be put on your dashboard in the hot sun. It should just be in a room temperature, dry environment.

Then, at that point, you're going to want to hire a lawyer who's skilled and experienced in handling DWI cases. For some people, they are going to have a word of mouth referral, but many people will not. For those people... I found that a lot of people will use a search engine like Google to try to find a lawyer. What I just wanted to suggest to people is very important. This is a two step process.

When I say a two step process, first, you're going to be searching maybe using words like "the court that you are in" and "DWI" or something like that, "DWI Concord district court." First, you're going to be searching for lawyers, information related to that particular court and type of case.

After you start identifying some lawyers or potential lawyers, you're going to want to Google them. In other words, you're going to want to put their name through Google. For lawyers who are very experienced, you'll find articles they've written, maybe a book that they are associated with. You'll find trainings that they presented. You'll find, of course, their website and any other websites they might have.

This is important because you also find attorney discipline. You'll find if the lawyer has been suspended in the practice of law for some kind of malfeasance in the past. There is a lawyer in New Hampshire who holds him or herself out as a DWI lawyer, and advertises a lot. A simple Google search of this person's name reveals that this person is a convicted felon who was suspended from practice in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

This is why you really should not just Google the subject matter and type of lawyer you're looking for, run the lawyers themselves through Google, to give yourself some peace of mind that the person you're dealing with is a person with a good reputation for professionalism and for excellence in the way they handle cases.

John: Is there anything else that the accused person should do to go about choosing a lawyer?

Ted: I think that most people who don't have a specific referral from a friend or something like that, and even people who have a referral, should meet with a couple or more different lawyers. There have been cases where I may have been the best lawyer for a certain type of case or a good lawyer for a certain type of case, but there just wasn't the right fit between lawyer and client.

You're not just looking for a lawyer who's very experienced and skilled. You're looking for a lawyer that you're going to feel comfortable with. For most people that I represent, they've never been in trouble before or never been in this kind of trouble before.

They're facing something that's very stressful and upsetting for them. It's going to be stressful and upsetting for months, while we go through the case process.

I want clients who feel very comfortable with me. I tell people, when they meet with me for free consultation, I tell them, "Meet with other lawyers too, and pick the one who's not just the lawyer that you think will do the best job, but a lawyer that you feel comfortable with, that you trust, that you feel confident in."

Now, I want to say this, when you talk about feeling confident in a lawyer, that doesn't mean that the lawyer tells you "I will win your case." There are some irresponsible people out there who will say things like that, and I tell clients "those lawyers are just trying to take your money".

There is no way to know at a first consult whether we're going to win your case, lose your case, get you a great plea. We don't know that yet.

What I can begin in a consultation, I can talk to you about what are you facing here in terms of the charges? How have we defended cases like that in the past? What are the first things we would do if handling your case? How would we defend it? Is there any hope here, based on what the client has told me? And there usually is, but there have been cases where I've told people, "I don't know. I don't know if it's worth a significant amount of money to hire a lawyer in your case."

I give people candid advice. I do hear from people sometimes that have hired me, but tell me that another lawyer told them, "Oh, I'll be able to beat that case." And they recognize that that's an untrustworthy person to do something that unprofessional based on one 30 minute or so meeting, with only one side of the case.

My client is just one side of the case. To announce that they're going to win is...what they are really announcing is that they want your money.

John: Mm‑hmm. If the driver took a breath test, what should he or she do with the captured breath samples? You mentioned storing them correctly. Is there anything else that they need to do?

Ted: Yes. It's a good thing that the laboratory is a wonderful laboratory because there's only one laboratory available in the United States to test these samples, and that is CG Labs. You can find them at www.CGLabs.com, or emailing to chemist@CGlabs.com.

The chemist is J. Godfrey, or that's his nickname. John Godfrey. I have been working with him on cases since I began practicing law in New Hampshire in 1994. He's just a wonderful resource. He has a very professional and well run laboratory. He charges, at this time ‑‑ you'll have to look on the website to get updated prices ‑‑ but around $160 for a breath test, or I think somewhat more for a blood test.

It takes about two weeks to turn around results, or so. It's really worth it if the breath or blood test is an important thing in your case. In most cases, it is. It's an important piece of evidence. You are going to want to retest it to check its integrity.

I should say that's more true with breath tests than blood tests. But, his laboratory is available to do retesting on both types of samples.

John: You recommend that a person get those breath tests retested by this lab?

Ted: Yes. But I recommend the person hire their lawyer first. I'm sure John Godfrey would not like to hear this, but there are cases where I tell the client that, "You know, you've told me that you had eight beers and your breath test number is about exactly where it's expected to be for eight beers. Let's just hold off and see what progress we can make with the rest of the case before you have those retested, because I don't want you to spend $160 for nothing.

Maybe there's a different way we can litigate this case. If we're going to litigate it because there was a bad stop. If we're going to litigate it on the basis that the officer had no reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle, and we might win on that basis, then that means that the breath test is going to be suppressed, and it doesn't matter."

Yes, there are cases in which...I do think the prudent thing to do is to hire the lawyer first and ask the lawyer what to do, as opposed to going straight to CG Labs. If you are going to represent yourself, then I think you need to just send off your samples and get them tested.

John: OK. What are typical bail conditions for a DWI?

Ted: The one that I worry about and talk to clients about is that, many courts in New Hampshire in DWI first offense cases will make a bail condition that the person consume no alcohol. I don't personally think that that's a very reasonable bail condition. A lot of courts do it a different way. They'll say that the person cannot consume excessive amounts of alcohol. Admittedly, a somewhat vague standard, but I think that's a more reasonable requirement.

But you need to check your bail condition. Because if your bail condition is that you cannot consume alcohol, then you need to be well aware of that. You do not want to be in a situation where, let's say, you're a passenger in someone's car coming back from a restaurant, that person is pulled over, the officer checks everybody's ID's, and your bail conditions come up and you've been drinking.

Wow, you might find yourself arrested again and in violation of bail conditions. That's one that I think people need to pay close attention to.

John: Does a driver have to attend his or her first court appearance if they hire a lawyer?

Ted: If they hire a lawyer...Your first court appearance is your arraignment. The purpose of an arraignment is for the judge or clerk to advise the accused of what the charges are, to read the charges out loud, and to take a plea. Which would be not guilty or guilty, or sometimes "nolo", no contest.

If you're hiring a lawyer, then obviously, you're not pleading guilty or no contest at your arraignment. In most cases, most lawyers, including myself, actually just put a not guilty plea in by mail, so that the person does not have to attend the arraignment.

The reason we do that is that prosecutors and police...It's usually premature, in other words, it's too early in the case to make any headway in terms of negotiations. Every prosecutor and police officer is willing to negotiate for a client to plead guilty to DWI, but we're not doing that.

In terms of trying to move off of DWI to something else, in New Hampshire, the law requires arraignments in most DWI cases to be only 14 days after arrest. That's too early for those negotiations to go anywhere.

Most of my clients are hardworking people. They really can't afford to lose another day of work. We just put a not guilty plea in by mail. The answer is in most cases, people who hire me, and I see this as the practice of most other lawyers too, will not have to attend their arraignment.

If you don't hire a lawyer, if you haven't hired one yet, you must attend your arraignment.

John: Ted Lothstein, thank you very much for speaking with me.

Ted: Thank you, John.

John: For more information, please visit the law firm's website at lothsteinlaw.com, that's LOTHSTEINlaw.com, or call Ted at 603‑513‑1919.

Photo credit: Dandelion Salad / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Categories: DWI/DUI Defense