New Hampshire DUI Laws – All You Need to Know

New Hampshire DUI Laws - All You Need to Know

Did you know that approximately 40% of deaths from car crashes are due to driving under the influence

This just shows how dangerous it really is.

To prevent that, the State of New Hampshire enforces strict DUI laws with even stricter penalties. 

And we’re here to go over all the New Hampshire DUI laws, penalties, and other facts for you. This way, you don’t risk breaking the law. 

So let’s dive right in! 

DUI Laws in New Hampshire

New Hampshire DUI Laws

In New Hampshire, there are 5 laws related to DUI. These are:

  • Illegal BAC levels
  • Implied Consent Law
  • Drugs and driving
  • Open Container Law
  • Liquor Transport Law

Let’s go over the details of each one. 

Illegal BAC Levels 

First of all, what is a BAC level?

A BAC level or a blood alcohol concentration level determines how much alcohol there is in our blood. It’s determined by a percentage (%). 

In New Hampshire, it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle if your BAC level is: 

  • 0.08% for drivers 21 and above
  • 0.04% for drivers that hold a commercial license
  • 0.02% for drivers below 21 years old

You can see that New Hampshire is a lot stricter when it comes to underage and commercial drivers. This is because, for the former, they are more at risk of DUI, and, for the latter, crashes are deadlier when in a commercial vehicle. 

Implied Consent Law

But how is your BAC level determined?

If a law enforcement officer suspects you of DUI, they will pull you over and ask you to take a breath, blood, or urine test. This will show the percentage of alcohol in your system. 

And under the Implied Consent Law, you are required to submit to these tests.

Don’t worry — you have the right to take alternative independent tests for more accurate results. 

However, if you refuse to take a test at all, you will be penalized — your license may be suspended for 180 days to 2 years. 

Drugs and Driving 

Alcohol isn’t the only enemy — drugs, too. 

So if a police officer sees signs of driving impairment, you can be charged with a DUI even if you only took over-the-counter drugs. 

Remember, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, although legal to take, can impair your driving. Some have drowsy effects while some inhibit your ability to drive properly. 

As for illegal drugs, you are not allowed to take them whether or not you’re operating a motor vehicle.

Open Container Law

Under the Open Container Law, it is also illegal to have an open container of alcohol in any moving vehicle. 

The reason behind this is that an open container or bottle means that the driver has been drinking. If not, then it just might tempt the driver to drink and drive. 

If you are transporting alcohol, these should be sealed and placed away from both the driver’s and the passenger’s areas. 

One exception to transporting open containers of liquor is when the person drinking is riding a chartered bus, taxi, or limousine.

Liquor Transport Law

If you are a driver below 21 years old, you are NOT allowed to transport alcoholic beverages. Yes, even if it isn’t open. 

Alcoholic beverages should not be present in any part of the vehicle (even the trunk!). 

The only exception to this law is if the underage driver is accompanied by their parent or legal guardian who is of drinking age. 

DUI Penalties in New Hampshire

Convicted of a DUI?

Here is a table showing you the harsh penalties that you will face: 

OffenseType of ViolationFineLicense SuspensionJail TimeTreatment Programs
1stClass B misdemeanor$500-$1,2009 months – 2 yearsNoneSubstance Abuse Evaluation and Impaired Driver Care Management Program (IDCMP)
2ndClass A misdemeanor$750-$2,0003 years17 days – 2 yearsIf under probation, completion of IDCMP and 5 days in jail. 

An ignition interlock device is required.
3rdClass A misdemeanor$750-$2,000indefiniteAt least 180 days28-day inpatient program

For those charged with an aggravated DUI where it involves speeding, transporting minors, or a crash, the court will give increased penalties. In some cases, you may be charged with a felony. 

Effects of Alcohol and Drugs on Driving

We already know that DUI is a big NO. 

But what exactly does alcohol/drugs do to our bodies that makes driving so dangerous?

Well, let’s go over some effects of alcohol and drugs: 

  • Slower response time
  • Poor judgment
  • Drowsiness that can lead to falling asleep while driving
  • Impaired vision such as blurry vision or inability to focus on the road
  • Inability to judge the distance between you and vehicles or objects

All these effects are an accident waiting to happen. 

Take note that even if you drink coffee or get some fresh air, the effects of alcohol or drugs are still there. The only way to reduce the effects is time — at least 12 hours. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Got some questions about DUI in New Hampshire? Let’s go over some frequently asked questions. 

Can you drive after a DUI in NH?

Unfortunately, if you are found guilty of a DUI, your license will be immediately suspended. If it’s your first offense, license suspension can be as long as 9 months. 

Can you refuse a field sobriety test in NH?

Yes, you can. However, you will face at least 180 days to 2 years of license suspension. And that’s whether you were drunk driving or not — it doesn’t matter. 

That said, if you are uncomfortable taking a test on the spot, you can get tested by an independent clinic.

Is your license suspended immediately after a DUI in NH?

Yes, it is. For a first suspension, that can take as long as 9 months. 

Is a DWI a felony in NH?

A DWI (or DUI) becomes a felony if it’s an aggravated DUI conviction. This means any of the following was done: 

  • Got into a collision
  • Injured or killed somebody
  • Drove minors while you were drunk/drugged
  • Overspeeding 

How long does a DWI stay on your record in NH?

A DUI stays on your driver’s record for 10 years. This can significantly affect your auto insurance premiums. 

What are the 5 signs of drunk driving?

There are several ways a police officer can determine a drunk driver. And you can use these signs to spot and report them.

Here are 5 signs of drunk driving: 

  • Overspeeding or driving too slow or doing both
  • Swerving
  • Excessive steering and changing lanes often
  • Persistent tailgating
  • Driving on the centerline


And that was all you needed to know about the New Hampshire DUI laws. 

Now that you know the laws, penalties, and other facts, it’s in your best interest to NEVER DRIVE WITH ALCOHOL OR DRUGS IN YOUR SYSTEM. 

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

So be a responsible driver!

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