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Felony drunk driving may be defended if causation is lacking

Driving while intoxicated is a significant criminal violation in New Hampshire. While a first offense without an accident or personal injury is a misdemeanor that will result in a less severe punishment, the penalties for drunk driving increase as the circumstances become more serious. Furthermore, there are more rigorous sentencing prescriptions for each subsequent violation that a person incurs.

Significant punishment is provided for those situations where the drunk driving violation is accompanied by an accident where there is serious bodily injury or death. The charge of aggravated DWI resulting in serious bodily injury is prosecuted as a class B felony. When the driver's intoxicated driving causes an accident resulting in death, the offense is charged and prosecuted as a class A felony.

New Hampshire criminal conviction penalties provide a maximum seven-year sentence of incarceration for a Class B felony and up to 15 years for a Class A felony. In a recent accident on Interstate 93, a 22-year-old woman died in a single-vehicle accident after the car she was riding in rolled over several times in the center median. State police accompanied the driver to Elliot Hospital in Manchester where he was treated for serious injuries. The authorities charged the 31-year-old male driver with felony-level aggravated driving while intoxicated.

With a potential sentence of imprisonment of up to 15 years, the accused is likely already consulting with an experienced drunk driving attorney. There may be a defense to the charges or a possible reason to negotiate for a reduced charge. For example, Rockingham County officials have posted that this area of I-93 is plagued by a highway curve that has contributed to a high number of very serious accidents. Where causation may be questioned, the driver may not be criminally liable for the death or may be entitled to a reduced sentence, depending on the circumstances.

Source:, "One killed in I-93 rollover crash; driver faces felony DWI charge", Feb. 2, 2017

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