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Read this if you are facing DUI charges in New Hampshire

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Criminal Defense

When New Hampshire police told you to sit in the backseat of a patrol car because you were under arrest for suspected drunk driving, you may have felt frightened, confused, nervous or all three. Every state operates under its own laws and guidelines regarding criminal charges for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. If you are facing DUI charges in this state, it is beneficial to learn as much as you can about what to expect in court and how to defend your rights.

If you do not have a New Hampshire driver’s license but are facing DUI charges in this state, you’ll want to be aware that your case may have an impact on your driving privileges in the state that issued your license, as well. Numerous factors may affect the outcome of your case in either state, including the plea you choose to enter at your arraignment hearing.

What happens at a DUI arraignment hearing?

When you appear before a New Hampshire criminal court judge for arraignment, you can expect several things to occur. The judge overseeing your case will formally announce the charges you are facing, as well as possible penalties you may incur under conviction. The judge will ask you if you fully understand the information the court has provided to you.

Once you have confirmed that you understand the DUI charges you are facing, as well as penalties the court might order against you if you are convicted, the judge will ask you to enter a plea. There are typically three basic ways to plead in a drunk driving case, including guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere.

Pleading nolo contendere may have several benefits

The legal term “nolo contendere” derives from a Latin phrase, which literally means “I do not wish to contend.” It’s often referred to as pleading “no contest.” In New Hampshire, pleading nolo contendere means that you are neither admitting nor denying guilt. If you plead nolo contendere, the court will add a DUI conviction to your record. You might wonder why it would be beneficial to plead nolo contendere if you still incur a conviction when you have not admitted guilt and prosecutors have not proved as much.

There are several reasons to choose this type of plea. Firstly, sentencing under conviction following a nolo contendere plea is likely to be lighter than it would if you had pleaded not guilty but were then proven guilty in court. Another compelling reason to enter a no contest plea is that it prevents evidence from your case that has to do with civil lawsuits. If you plead guilty to DUI, your admission can be of use against you in a personal injury lawsuit. However, a nolo contendere plea prevents this.

Additional legal issues to keep in mind

You’ll lose your driving privileges for at least 180 days for a first-offense DUI in New Hampshire. If your license was issued in another state, the court will still prohibit you from driving in this state. You might also incur suspension of driving privileges in the state that issued your license. You’ll want to make sure you fully understand the defense options available to you before the arraignment hearing takes place.

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