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What is the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program in New Hampshire?

All circumstances of cases of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence in New Hampshire need careful handling. Drunk driving charges are serious, and the legal system in our state spares no effort in pursuing prosecution. Penalties vary; minimizing them might be possible with a vigorous drunk driving defense. Heavy fines, jail and loss of driving privileges for a time are common. Another consequence might be implementation of the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program.

An alcohol ignition interlock device is a system connecting a breath analyzer to the ignition system of a car or truck. Its purpose is to measure the concentration of alcohol in a person's breath when he or she attempts to start the motor. The device won't allow it to start unless the driver provides a breath sample registering a concentration of alcohol below a preset level. Any person convicted of drunk driving whose license has been suspended for aggravated DWI or a subsequent DWI offense must install the device in a vehicle registered to or primarily used by him or her.

If the court requires a person to have one of these devices installed, the Department of Motor Vehicles will notify him or her. There are approved vendors who can provide and set the ignition interlock, at a cost to be paid by the offender. The company issues a Certificate of Installation that must be presented to the Bureau of Financial Responsibility. Once this is done, the restriction is added to the driver's license of the offender.

The court determines how long the device must remain in the vehicle, usually calculated from the date New Hampshire driving privileges are restored. The term is not less than 12 months nor longer than two years. A judge may also require installation of an ignition interlock as a condition of bail. The device contains an automatic log that keeps a record of failures to take the breath test or pass it. The data will be kept for 36 months following the end of the sentence.

An administrative hearing before restoring driving privileges to an offender may be required by the commissioner of safety wherein it may be determined that an ignition interlock device is called for in that particular case. If so, the same conditions and prohibitions apply as if installation was ordered by the court.

Source: New Hampshire Title XXI Motor Vehicles, "Chapter 265-A -- Alcohol or Drug Impairment," accessed April. 29, 2015

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