DWI - 2nd Offense

Are you charged with, or potentially facing charges for, a 2d offense DWI?

"2d offense DWI" sounds simple, but its not. The law governing these charges is very complex.

10-year Look Back

First, New Hampshire has a 10-year look-back window for DWIs. This reflects the fact that after 10 years of good behavior, a person can petition for annulment of a DWI conviction. If the person does not petition for and obtain annulment, the DWI conviction stays on her motor vehicle and criminal record forever. But after 10 years have gone by, if the person is arrested for simple (not aggravated) DWI, it is classified as a "first offense" class B misdemeanor because of the 10-year look-back.

If there is a DWI conviction within 10 years, NH police and prosecutors will charge a class A misdemeanor "DWI-Subsequent Offense" which carries VERY enhanced penalties: A minimum THREE YEAR license suspension, not taking into account any ALS. Up to a year in jail, with mandatory minimum jail sentences that vary depending on whether the DWI is very recent, within 2 years, or older than 2 years, but within 10 years old. Mandatory ignition interlock for at least one year following restoration.

Other States have Lifetime Lookback

Complicating things, some other States, like the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, have a life-time look-back window. If a Massachusetts license holder gets a OUI in 1975, and another in 2024, the 2024 OUI is classified in Massachusetts as a second offense OUI, with a longer license suspension. More on this below!

Further complicating things: NH has a lifetime look-back window, not 10 years but lifetime, for other laws that impact DWI cases: 1) The limited license law (no limited license available if there is a prior DWI within one's lifetime), and 2) the regulations governing how much counseling the person will have to do to get their license back (6 months of counseling mandated for a person who has a prior DWI lifetime, even if outside 10 years).

Lots of moving parts here. Consult with a highly qualified and experienced lawyer.

Why pay more for a highly qualified and experienced lawyer?

Here's what happened to someone who picked the wrong lawyer: In 2006, the NH Supreme Court addressed a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. A NH lawyer (not from our firm!!) represented a client on what was charged as a DWI-1st offense. The client had a Massachusetts license, and had four prior OUI convictions in Massachusetts, but the most recent was outside NH's 10 year window. In NH, the lawyer advised his client to plead guilty, because he would only get a 90 day suspension. The court accepted the plea and suspended this person's NH operating privileges for 90 days. And then Massachusetts applied reciprocity, under its own laws, and SUSPENDED THE CLIENT'S LICENSE FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE. The NH lawyer never told his client that the Massachusetts law was different than NH's law, and that Massachusetts law would apply, because the client held a Massachusetts license. Umm... oops?

So again- consult with a highly qualified and experienced lawyer.