Office Location
102 Amherst Street
Nashua, NH 03064

Shepherd and Hayes Law Firm, PLLC

Free Consultation (603) 233-1626

icon
Text Us
Shepherd and Hayes Law Firm, PLLC

Free Consultation (603) 233-1626

icon

Drivers may encounter trouble with the law while driving if they are repeatedly charged with traffic violations, criminal offenses, or other kinds of scenarios that warrant a habitual offender designation. Becoming flagged as a habitual offender in New Hampshire brings some challenges, such as license suspensions with the DMV, impending court dates, and facing fines in addition to penalties with the law according to the types of charges you face. 

With an experienced lawyer who understands a habitual offender designation and the way to strategize the best outcome for a client, you’ll know your rights and rest assured that your case is handled efficiently. At Shepherd & Hayes Law Firm, our attorneys understand the stress and hardships that may come with license suspensions and court dates. Don’t aim to handle your case on your own, our team is available to help you resolve your charges and restore your record. 

Understanding What a Habitual Offender Is in New Hampshire

When an individual is flagged as a habitual offender in New Hampshire, this means the DMV has reviewed any offenses they have committed within a span of time and determined they are repeating offenses or repeatedly encountering trouble while behind the wheel. Depending on the charges and frequency, there are different cases that can be used to explain why the individual has been deemed a habitual offender while driving. This designation does not equate to being a criminal offender; it only applies to an individual’s driving record in New Hampshire. 

How Does the DMV Decide Who Becomes a Habitual Offender? 

One way to become a certified habitual offender is to get three major motor vehicle violations over five years, based on the date of the offense. Examples of such violations are DWI, driving on a suspended license, reckless operation, and other serious charges. The DMV will also deem you a habitual offender if you get twelve minor violations over five years. Examples of these cases are speeding, driving outside of your lane, etc. Also, minor and major violations can be combined to make someone a habitual offender, in which four minor violations are equivalent to one major offense. 

What If It Takes the DMV a Very Long Time to Serve You?

A common situation that many drivers encounter is that it can take the DMV a very long time to find and serve a habitual offender a hearing notice. Sometimes this is the driver’s fault if they left a state and the DMV cannot find them. In other cases, it may be caused by a DMV system error. This can be troublesome and seem unfair if you have resolved prior offenses and are under the impression your record is clean. Your lawyer can try to argue that the DMV waived the right to make someone a habitual offender because they waited too long to catch them. However, this argument may not definitively resolve your case and restore a clean record. 

What to Know If You Are Deemed a Habitual Offender

If you received a notice and are expected to have a court hearing after being designated as a habitual offender in New Hampshire, there’s important information to make note of. This information can help you avoid making mistakes as a habitual offender and worsening the matter. We want to help you know your rights and understand the process of handling your case and the DMV hearing. 

What Happens If You Drive While You Are a Habitual Offender?

If you drive after the DMV certifies you as a habitual offender, this is a felony, with a maximum of five years in prison. This used to result in a mandatory minimum one-year sentence, but the Legislature thankfully modified this rule, and Judges are no longer required to impose a mandatory minimum one-year sentence.

What Happens at the Habitual Offender Hearing?

When you are served with a notice and given a date, a DMV hearing is conducted by a hearings officer, typically a lawyer who works for the Department of Safety. The officer reviews your driving record and confirms that the convictions meet the standard for habitual offenders. It is important to note that when the convictions on your record meet the standard, the hearings officer has no choice but to make the driver a habitual offender. You can hire an attorney to help you through the process and build a solid strategy to defend you and your rights. The DMV makes many errors, and it is not uncommon for delays and mistakes to occur that do not apply to an individual’s case once they are served.

How Long Will the DMV Make You a Habitual Offender?

If you are unable to get the designation dismissed, a habitual offender can carry this certification for a minimum of one year and a maximum of four. This means you cannot drive or operate a vehicle within that time frame. During a court hearing, the hearing officer can determine that your habitual offender period starts either from the date of the hearing or from your conviction date of the most recent charge. If they choose the most recent conviction’s date, and your license has been suspended, you’ll likely have already served the majority of the time. However, if your license is active, you’ll be expected to start a habitual offender status that day. 

Strategizing a Defense for Your Case 

The only way out of becoming a habitual offender is if one of the convictions on your record is incorrect because a court reported it incorrectly to the DMV. One of our strategies is to try to go back to one of the courts and challenge the conviction. Sometimes we can plead with a  sympathetic prosecutor to reverse a conviction if we can really show that the client does not deserve to be a habitual offender. 

Or, we can carefully review the transcript of the hearing to make sure all the proper procedures were followed. A 2016 NH Supreme Court decision calling into question the legality of many operating after revocation convictions created a golden opportunity for this approach. We understand how frustrating and unexpected this may be, but following the proper steps, knowing your rights, and hiring a skilled attorney can help you resolve this with the DMV. 

Can I Get My License Back After Becoming a Habitual Offender? 

A common misconception that many have about finishing their habitual offender designation sentence is that their license will be automatically reinstated. However, this is not true, and individuals are responsible for requesting another DMV hearing to show that they have earned the removal of a habitual offender status. During this hearing, the individual will be instructed on the next steps to take according to what the DMV decides. Common examples include taking a defensive driving class, or substance abuse treatment if you had DWIs.

Considerations for DWI Offenders   

Some people with DWIs on their record have an administrative license suspension that they are still waiting to serve. In some cases, this must be served consecutively with any other loss of a license. Therefore, the driver does not start serving the administrative suspension until after they get their habitual offender status decertified. It may be very alarming and upsetting for a habitual offender’s status to be removed only to learn that they still have an additional loss of license to complete for an old DWI charge.

Skilled Attorneys at Shepherd & Hayes Law Firm Can Help You Face a Habitual Offender Status in New Hampshire 

Navigating through several offenses and the DMV court hearings that determine your future driving privileges is very stressful for any individual who receives a habitual offender notice. However, you do not have to handle a case independently if this applies to you. Our skilled and experienced attorneys understand what you are facing, as well as how to protect your rights and privileges against DMV errors and past convictions that can be resolved. You may fill out our contact form or give us a call at (603) 233-1626 to schedule a free consultation.

Request a Free Consultation