Defenses in New Hampshire Third Offense DWI Cases

The defense strategy for a third offense DWI case in New Hampshire is not much different than a first or second offense DWI. Other than the analysis of whether or not the attorney can get a prior conviction vacated, or whether there is reasonable doubt that this is the same individual that was convicted twice before, the defense strategy is mostly the same.

However, a person who is accused of a third offense DWI in New Hampshire may be under much more stress, because they are looking at significant sentencing. This includes a minimum of a five-year license loss. To defend against this and other severe penalties, an individual should contact a New Hampshire third offense DWI lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will be able to craft an appropriate defense strategy to help lessen or dismiss any potential consequences.

Specifics of a Third Offense

A person who is charged for the third time may be aware of what the police are trying to do during the arrest process. In a lot of cases, they are more likely to refuse field sobriety tests or are more likely to refuse to take a breath test.

Sometimes, third offense DWIs are actually better cases from the defense perspective because a person who has already been convicted before has been through the arrest process, the field sobriety testing process, and realizes these field sobriety tests are not terribly fair to them. This makes defending a New Hampshire third offense DWI charge easier from the attorney’s perspective.

New Hampshire DWI laws do not allow for a diversion of a DWI in New Hampshire at any level of offense. Not even for a DWI first offense. New Hampshire’s DWI sentencing scheme is designed for punishment rather than rehabilitation.

Building a Defense

The prosecution treats New Hampshire third offense DWI charges the same as they would a first or second offense. This is because the elements of the alleged crime are the same. This includes driving, on a public way, while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both.

For a third offense, the prosecutor also has to prove the two prior convictions beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution must prove that the prior convictions were of the same driver who is currently on trial.

When preparing a defense for a third offense DWI charge in New Hampshire, the main goal is to beat the DWI itself. In which case, the other offenses or the other convictions do not come into play at all.

Mistaken Identity

Cases of mistaken identity happen somewhat regularly in third offense DWI charges in New Hampshire. It is not so often that it is actually “mistaken identity”, but rather that the state cannot prove it is the same person.

Another more common scenario is when a driver gets charged with a second or third offense, and the criminal defense lawyer learns that the accused driver pleaded guilty without the assistance of a lawyer. Because a first offense does not carry a jail sentence in New Hampshire, people accused of a Class B misdemeanor DWI charge are not provided court-appointed counsel to help them.

Many people have pleaded guilty to very marginal DWI cases because they did not know any better. In those cases, an attorney looks at whether all the constitutional requirements were performed by the sentencing court in advising the driver to their rights at the time of their plea on their first offense.

A review of these records can sometimes reveal a legal flaw in the prior conviction. This can create an opportunity for the lawyer to move to vacate that old DWI conviction, and lower a third DWI offense to a second DWI offense, or a second DWI offense to a first DWI offense, as a successful motion to vacate a prior conviction renders the prior DWI conviction null and void. This particular defense strategy for a third offense DWI charge in Michigan, when successful, can save months in jail and years of license loss.