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Rochester NH Legal Blog

Freedom to ride without a helmet? Think twice.

So, you like the feeling of freedom-you on your bike, the wind on your face. You don't have to wear helmet, but should you? After all, New Hampshire has no laws requiring helmet use. But even without a law forcing you to wear a helmet, think about what you have to lose if you do get hurt. 

Commercial vehicles are held to higher standards in accidents

The American roadways are part of what make The United States unique. Few countries have freeway systems as organized and well designed as ours. The open road is more than just a necessity of your morning commute, it inspires the thrill of driving and provides new adventures when you get away from the daily grind.

Vehicles are safer today than ever before, but that doesn't change the fact that you are taking some level of risk when you get behind the wheel of an automobile. Accidents happen, we've all probably been in a fender bender, but when your accident involves a commercial truck, it is a different matter entirely.

Man going wrong way on I-93 arrested for drunk driving

In New Hampshire and elsewhere, one of the most dangerous violations a driver can make is to enter and travel on an interstate highway in the wrong direction. This is nearly always a result of negligent and even reckless driving. When the driver is also engaging in drunk driving, the consequences almost always lead to horrific tragedy.

The finding of drunk driving remains to be proved against a 26-year-old Manchester man arrested by the New Hampshire State Police on April 7 for allegedly driving in the wrong direction on I-93 in Concord. Troopers say that they encountered the driver at 4:45 a.m. when they were out on a service call. They tried to stop him but they allege that they were met with resistance.

Workers' compensation benefits apply when safety fails

New Hampshire is the home to many manufacturing companies. Safety is always a concern in such operations, particularly those that employ a variety of heavy machinery. Workers often suffer some of the most gruesome work injuries in manufacturing plants. When injuries occur, the first and sometimes only line of monetary reparations lies in the benefits made available through the employer's workers' compensation insurance policy.

Due to the significant incidence of workers' injuries in manufacturing jobs, employers and employees have always been in search of measures that can make their jobs safer and free from injury. When the employer and the employees undertake such efforts together, the results are typically more productive. For example, in another state union members and the management at Tyson Foods joined together years ago to work on improving safety in the workplace.

Drug charges fail if initial stop and search is unconstitutional

New Hampshire and federal constitutional principles strictly govern the circumstances in which the authorities may stop and search persons in public places. They may do so only if they have reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity afoot. In a recent 8:20 a.m. arrest on drug charges, a Manchester police officer stopped a woman and two men in the rear of an apartment building in Manchester. The 31-year-old female suspect allegedly failed to follow police commands to keep her hands away from her midsection and also then grabbed for the officer's weapon.

This allegedly led to a scuffle and brought more officers to the scene. The officers state that they had to transition the suspect to the ground while she continued to struggle to grasp another officer's secured weapon. After subduing her, the police allegedly found 7.5 grams of suspected methamphetamine and .5 grams of heroin on the woman.

Police bring drug charges against woman accused of selling pills

The authorities in New Hampshire do not usually distinguish those cases where a suspect arrested for drug dealing is really a low-level actor with a high-level personal drug addiction. It is usually the responsibility of defense counsel to weed out the human facts existing behind a prosecution on drug charges. Sometimes, the worst outcome is for the criminal justice system to put an individual behind bars when that person needs treatment instead of harsh punishment.

This may come into play regarding the arrest of a 22-year-old woman on drug dealing charges on April 2. The Rockingham Sheriff's Department arrested her on two counts of selling Oxycodone. The Sheriff's Department states that it was assisted by the Windham and Plaistow Police Departments in the investigation and arrest. The suspect allegedly sold an unidentified number of pills in the Plaistow area.

Police charge driver in one-car collision with drunk driving

New Hampshire authorities are often tipped off to the possibility of impaired driving when they investigate a reported accident. The circumstances may indicate that the operator did not use due care and thus caused the events to occur. However, where the operator is seriously injured, the investigative process of gathering evidence of drunk driving may be partially obstructed. In such situations, police may not in the end have enough evidence to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

A recent accident near the Exit 9 on-ramp to the Spaulding Turnpike illustrates some of the typical events surrounding an accident and suspicion of driver impairment. On Friday morning, March 23, at about 6:51 a.m., the New Hampshire State Police received a report of an accident at that location. When they arrived, they discovered that the driver had traveled over a guardrail, up a snow bank and then descended into a gulf, landing in a clump of woodland about 65 feet below the roadway.  

Uber accident: What to do in the aftermath

Autonomous vehicles from Uber are not exempt from problems. One recent accident in Arizona resulted in the death of a woman whom a self-driving Uber car hit. Despite the tragedy, it has not stopped New Hampshire lawmakers from wanting autonomous vehicle testing on state roadways in the near future. 

As of now, actual human beings operate a vast majority of Uber vehicles. This means they are prone to human error, and accidents occur all the time. If you are a passenger in an Uber or Lyft when a collision occurs, it is important to remain calm and follow these steps: 

Woman arrested for trespass may have a valid criminal defense

New Hampshire laws protect property owners from trespass by strangers and anyone without permission to be on private property. That sometimes clashes with the needs of the homeless who try to find somewhere to go and be protected from the elements. It is difficult to attribute criminal intent to someone who has been evicted for financial reasons from a rental premises but who goes back to find a place to rest in the hope of not being caught. There may be a valid criminal defense in some circumstances. 

That is apparently what happened in Concord recently when an owner of a unit in a manufactured home park informed police that a woman was on his property, according to the Concord police. The police went to the property, asked the woman to come out and then arrested her for criminal trespass. Police say that the 56-year-old woman had already been served with an eviction notice but that she apparently did not vacate the premises.

Townhouse owners don't have premises liability for common areas

Generally, in New Hampshire a property owner or lessor is responsible for the maintenance and safety of the common areas of the premises and the tenant is responsible for the rented property itself. The common areas consist of walkways, parking lots, hallways, grounds, porches, stairways and other facilities that are used by the tenants and visitors in common and are generally open to the public. When the owner or lessor is negligent in maintaining those common areas, premises liability is incurred for damages to those injured due to that negligence. Generally, the tenant will not be able to recover if the injury occurs within the confines of the rented property.

The issue also arises in connection with the maintenance of building systems such as townhouses and condos. There is usually a governing document that defines the parameters of liability. However, it is not always easy to determine where the common areas let off and where the internal building systems take over. In rental complexes, state regulations and/or the lease agreement will generally provide that the owner must be responsible for maintaining all major structural systems, including plumbing, electrical, heating, roofing and the like.

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