Being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) can have serious, life-altering consequences, but understanding how to respond appropriately can help you achieve a more favorable outcome. First, however, it’s worth clearing up a few misconceptions. Under New Hampshire law, DUI offenses are technically designated as driving while intoxicated (DWI). This can cause some confusion, but both terms are equivalent and can be used interchangeably. In addition, while DUI is typically associated with drunk driving, the law applies to anyone operating or attempting to operate any vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or any other controlled substance.
Even first-time DWI offenses come with substantial fines and lengthy license suspensions. Repeat offenses and other aggravating factors can increase these penalties, potentially costing you your license for multiple years or even culminating in a jail sentence. By undergoing a DUI evaluation following your arrest, however, you can begin working toward earning reduced penalties and regaining your license as quickly as possible.
Table of Contents
- Understanding the Purpose of a DUI Evaluation
- Components of a DUI Evaluation
- Finding a DUI Evaluation Facility Near Manchester
- Preparing for the Evaluation
- What Happens After the Evaluation
- Legal Implications and Manchester’s DUI Laws
- Benefits of Proactively Addressing DUI Charges
- Local Facilities and Resources
Understanding the Purpose of a DUI Evaluation
A DUI evaluation, also known as a substance abuse evaluation, is a screening tool used to assess a person’s relationship with alcohol and other intoxicating substances. This is a mandatory part of the legal process for DWI offenses in most states, including New Hampshire. Its primary purpose is to help the court assess whether you have a substance abuse problem and to what extent it may impact your ability to drive safely in the future. It also provides valuable information that can be used during court proceedings to determine what further interventions, if any, may be required to complete your sentence.
Components of a DUI Evaluation
In New Hampshire, DUI evaluations are performed as part of the state’s Impaired Driver Care Management Program (IDCMP). To ensure this process gets off to a smooth start, it helps to familiarize yourself with the various components of the IDCMP. For first-time offenders, the program begins with a preliminary intake and screening. Your provider will check your driving history and other relevant records, review the circumstances of your DUI and conduct an initial interview to determine whether a follow-up is warranted.
Depending on your screening results and history of previous violations, you may need to undergo a second, more comprehensive evaluation with a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. During this clinical evaluation, your counselor will administer an Addiction Severity Index (ASI) assessment and ask a variety of questions about your relationship with drugs and alcohol. They will also evaluate your risk of repeat offenses and discuss which forms of treatment or support you may find most useful.
Finding a DUI Evaluation Facility Near Manchester
Although the New Hampshire IDCMP guarantees the right to choose where you would like to be evaluated, it’s very important to ensure you select a facility that’s qualified and approved to participate in the program. Working with a provider that isn’t certified by the state may be considered non-compliance, rendering you ineligible for early license restoration and delaying your path to recovery.
To find a state-approved provider in the Manchester area, we recommend going straight to the source. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Services maintains a complete, up-to-date listing of authorized IDCMP facilities on its website. Alternatively, you can access the free statewide 211 NH information and referral service by visiting their website or dialing 2-1-1. The referral specialists at 211 NH are highly knowledgeable and dedicated to connecting local residents with relevant resources and qualified service providers.
Regardless of which facility you choose, the fees associated with the program are set by the state. If you receive assistance through Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or certain other government programs, you may be eligible for a hardship waiver to lower some of these costs. Depending on your individual circumstances, typical fees include:
- State administrative fee: $70
- Intake and initial screening: $75
- Substance Use Disorder (SUD) evaluation: $200
- Impaired Driver Education Program (IDEP): $300
- Weekend Driver Education Program (WIDEP): $485
- Care management fee: $30 per contact, up to a maximum of $60 per month
Preparing for the Evaluation
Going through a court-ordered substance abuse evaluation can be nerve-wracking, but you can make the process easier by preparing everything you’ll need in advance. Begin by collecting all of the documents related to your case and any evaluations you may have had in the past. Some documents may take time to procure, so it’s best to start early. In particular, you’ll be required to furnish copies of your court sentencing order, arrest report with narrative, blood or breath test results, certified DMV records and documentation of any prior DUI violations.
It’s also helpful to spend some time preparing for the evaluation itself. Although it may be difficult, it’s essential to participate openly and honestly throughout the process. Being dishonest, withholding information or otherwise failing to comply with the program can be considered a violation of probation, leading to a much more punitive sentence. It’s only by engaging fully and truthfully that you can confront the problem head-on and start getting the support you need.
What Happens After the Evaluation
Though it may seem like a punishment, the goal of the IDCMP program is ultimately to help you avoid committing future offenses. If your risk of reoffending is determined to be low, you may only have to complete a standard 20-hour impaired driving education class. If your provider feels that further action is warranted, however, they can recommend a range of interventions based on the results of your evaluation.
These recommendations are then used to develop a personalized service plan designed specifically for you. This can include educational courses, inpatient or outpatient programs, individual counseling, group therapy or other treatments aimed at recovery and risk reduction. During the course of your service plan, you’ll also be required to undergo monitoring twice per month. Failure to complete your plan as assigned may have serious legal and financial consequences, so careful compliance is crucial.
Legal Implications and Manchester’s DUI Laws
As in the rest of New Hampshire, Manchester’s driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws apply to anyone operating or attempting to operate any type of vehicle while impaired. In addition to automobiles, this also includes boats, ATVs and other recreational vehicles. The standard penalties for a first offense DWI — that is, an offense with no aggravating factors and no previous violations within 10 years — include a $500 to $1,200 fine and a license suspension lasting from nine months to two years.
Subsequent DWI charges carry much steeper penalties, ranging from mandatory jail sentences to indefinite loss of license. Aggravated DWI penalties are also enhanced, resulting in fines of up to $2,000, loss of license for one to two years and a sentence of up to one year in the County House of Correction. Aggravating factors include an alcohol concentration of 0.16% or higher, speeding in excess of 30 mph over the limit, passengers under 16 years of age and attempting to elude the police.
Getting a DUI evaluation can reduce these penalties and help you get your license back in as little as 90 days as a first-time offender. Completion of the IDCMP is also a prerequisite for having your driving privileges restored. Conversely, because the courts factor these evaluations heavily into their sentencing decisions, refusing to participate in a timely manner will result in harsher penalties and other legal complications. Navigating these laws and regulations isn’t easy, but an attorney who specializes in handling DUI cases can help you get through the process and advocate for yourself more effectively.
Benefits of Proactively Addressing DUI Charges
Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s never too late — or too early — to start making amends. Being proactive in the wake of a DUI violation can mitigate the damage and allow you to turn a potentially devastating situation into an opportunity for growth. In fact, most attorneys recommend voluntarily beginning the substance abuse evaluation process as soon as possible after your arrest.
Addressing the situation in a timely manner demonstrates that you’ve acknowledged and taken responsibility for your actions. This can make a favorable impression on judges and prosecutors, bolstering your case for leniency. It’s also an easy way to avoid excessive legal fees and other unnecessary expenses.
Perhaps most importantly, undergoing a prompt evaluation ensures that you can begin receiving the support you need to begin your recovery. Learning how to accept and overcome substance abuse issues can dramatically improve your life and prevent you from slipping up again in the future. Not only can this save you a lot of money and legal trouble, but it can also protect your own safety and that of the community at large.
Local Facilities and Resources
If you need to undergo a DUI evaluation in New Hampshire, it’s important to choose a provider with the proper qualifications. The Manchester area is served by several state-approved facilities, including:
- Amethyst Foundation
- Beyond the Meadows PLLC
- Blue Heron Neurofeedback and Counseling
- CAIP at Headrest
- Chrysalis Recovery Center
- Community Improvement Associates
- Home Base Collaborative Family Counseling
- Southeastern New Hampshire Services
Dealing with the fallout of a DWI arrest can feel like an insurmountable challenge, especially if you’re struggling with substance abuse. Fortunately, it’s not a challenge you have to face all alone. There is help available to assist you throughout the DUI evaluation, treatment and recovery process, empowering you to make informed decisions and get your life back on track. To learn more, call Live Free Recovery Services and talk to our dedicated drug and alcohol treatment professionals today.