Habitual Offenders: What to do if This Isn’t Your First Offense
It is more or less common knowledge that when a person has prior driving offenses on their record, it usually ups the ante on any driving charges they may face in the future. Often, it leaves the person being charged open to more serious potential charges, which frequently come with more serious potential penalties.
What people may not know is that the State of New Hampshire has a specific law delineating what happens when someone commits a certain number of driving offenses, both in terms of potential charges and penalties, and in terms of consequences for the person’s license and their ability to drive.
New Hampshire’s Habitual Offender Law, detailed in a governing statute NH RSA 259:39, states that the New Hampshire Department of Safety must qualify certain drivers with repeat offenses as “Habitual Offenders”.
What do you have to do to be certified as a habitual offender in New Hampshire?
According to the habitual offender statute, qualification as a habitual offender requires the person to rack up a certain number of “major” and/or “minor” offenses in a five-year period (referred to as “predicate offenses”): specifically, three “major” offenses and/or 12 “minor” offenses. The statute lists 22 offenses that count toward certifying as a habitual offender. These include:
- Major Offenses:
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
- Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated
- Making False Statements
- Interfering with Antitheft Provisions
- Concealing the Identity of a Vehicle
- Taking a Vehicle Without the Owner’s Permission
- Possession of Master Keys/Skeleton Keys
- Disobeying an Officer
- Operating a Motor Vehicle after License Suspension or Revocation
- Reckless Driving
- Racing on Highways
- Overtaking and/or Passing School Buses
- Having Drugs in your Vehicle
- Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle
- Possession of Controlled Drugs in a Motor Vehicle
- Conduct After an Accident (i.e., leaving the scene of an accident)
- Vehicular Manslaughter
- Negligent Homicide Involving the Operation of a Motor Vehicle
- Conviction of any Felony in Which a Motor Vehicle was Involved
- Minor Offenses
- Solid Line/Highway Markings Violations
- Basic Rule and Maximum Limits (Speeding)
- Driving Without Proof of License
- Driving Without Proof of Insurance
What are the consequences of being qualified as a Habitual Offender in New Hampshire?
In New Hampshire, being classified as a habitual offender means that you lose your license and are no longer allowed to drive for a certain amount of time, which may be as long as 4 years, or in some cases even longer.
If you do drive while classified as a habitual offender, you may be hit with very severe consequences. In most cases, this will include jailtime, with a mandatory minimum of a year in county jail, and in some cases as many as five years in state prison.
What do I do if I am at risk of being qualified as a Habitual Offender?
In New Hampshire, driving is basically required in order to be able to live and work. Losing your license can be incredibly disruptive—not to mention the total life upheaval of a jail or prison sentence.
Thankfully, there is help. New Hampshire Defense Attorney Robert Bartis has ample experience with Habitual Offender law, and knows what it takes to negotiate habitual offender cases successfully on his clients’ behalf. You deserve a fresh start, and Attorney Bartis will give you your best shot at getting one.
If you or a loved one is in danger of being qualified as a habitual offender in Nashua, New Hampshire, call Attorney Robert Bartis today for a free consultation on your case.
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