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What Are Traffic Violations and Infractions in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire traffic violations are misconduct, which can lead to criminal charges against the offender. The nature and severity of a traffic violation are determined by the state’s criminal statutes - Title LXII of the New Hampshire Revised Statutes (Criminal Code) and Title XXI of the New Hampshire Revised Statutes (Motor Vehicles Code). Traffic violations, depending on the gravity, are classified into felony and misdemeanor. These two traffic offense categories are deemed serious, and committing a traffic offense that falls into any of the categories may guarantee a run-in with the New Hampshire Judicial Authority.

Other traffic offenses committed in New Hampshire, which are not breaches of the criminal statutes but are still offenses in the eyes of the law, are traffic infractions. Traffic infractions are relatively minor violations in which the offenders are given tickets that can be resolved by paying a fine. In New Hampshire, traffic infractions do not appear on criminal records but can have profound effects on the violator, such as an increase in insurance costs and demerit points assigned to the driver’s record by the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles. Examples of traffic infractions are wrong signaling when making a turn and running red lights.

What Are Felony Traffic Violations in New Hampshire?

Felony traffic violations are traffic-related offenses that are not misdemeanors but are criminal acts, which are generally punishable by a prison sentence of a year or more if a conviction occurs. Bearing a stipulated one-year minimum sentence in a state prison facility with the option of an additional fine and issuance of driver demerit points, felony traffic violations carry much stiffer penalties than traffic misdemeanors and traffic infractions.

Felony traffic violations are characterized by fatalities to a member of the public. A traffic violator can also be charged with a felony traffic violation due to repeated offenses, which are not normally felony traffic violations. Drivers who have been observed to have a certain disregard for traffic laws and constantly violate the law can be regarded as habitual offenders. Consequently, driving as a habitual offender may result in felony traffic violation charges against such an individual.

Felonies are divided into two classes in New Hampshire; Class A and Class B felonies. The class into which a felony is grouped denotes its severity and its applicable punishment.

  • Class A felony: The worst traffic crimes are the ones designated to Class A. The penalty is a minimum of seven and a half years of incarceration and a maximum fine of $4000. Certain Class A felonies, such as murder, can earn the offender the death penalty or a life imprisonment sentence.
  • Class B felony: This felony is lighter than a Class A one, but it is still a serious offense, which can land an offender with minimum sentencing of three and a half years in prison and a $2000 fine.

Examples of Felony Traffic Violations in New Hampshire?

The following are traffic-related offenses which may lead to a felony charge against a motorist:

  • Vehicular homicide
  • A fourth or more Driving While Intoxicated offense
  • Driving as a habitual offender
  • Driving and causing injury to another after being declared a habitual offender.

What Are Traffic Misdemeanors in New Hampshire?

Misdemeanor traffic violations are traffic offenses, which are less severe compared to felonies but may result in a criminal charge against the offender. A conviction on a misdemeanor traffic offense may draw a sentence of a jail term of up to one year and driving demerit points. Misdemeanors are also added to the offender’s criminal record and may cause license revocation if enough demerit points are accrued. Misdemeanors in New Hampshire are divided into two classes; A and B.

  • Class A misdemeanors are more serious than Class B misdemeanors and carry a potential sentence of a maximum of one year if the offender is convicted. A fine of up to $2000 may also be attached to the jail term. Offenses which are Class A misdemeanors are the second Driving While Intoxicated offense and stalking.
  • Class B misdemeanors are resolved by paying fines, and no detention is involved. Class B misdemeanors have lighter punishments than Class A and are punishable by a maximum fine of up to $1200.

Examples of Traffic Misdemeanors in New Hampshire?

Traffic misdemeanors are indictments punishable upon conviction by a small fine or a short term of imprisonment. The following are examples of traffic misdemeanors in New Hampshire:

  • Unsafe lane changing
  • Stopping on railroad tracks or railroad crossings
  • Drinking and driving
  • Driving through a no-passing zone
  • Tailgating
  • Driving without seatbelts on
  • Driving with damaged tail lights or headlights
  • Making an improper turn
  • Violating stop signs and red lights
  • Driving recklessly
  • Fleeing an accident scene
  • Hit and run (usually after causing bodily injury or damage to properties)
  • Driving with a revoked or seized license
  • Submitting fictitious vehicle permits
  • Racing on a public highway or partaking in speed contests
  • Driving with a radar-jamming device
  • Speeding over 35mph in any rural residence, 10 mph in a school zone, 30mph in a business/urban residence, and 65 mph on interstate highways.

What Constitutes a Traffic Infraction in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire, like many states in the United States, documents statutes as to how the public and residents should live by, which are called ordinances. In a nutshell, ordinances are authoritative decrees or directions that vary from county to county. In New Hampshire, traffic infractions are guided by ordinances and are the least severe types of violation compared to misdemeanors and felonies. Infractions do not attract jail time, unlike felonies and class A misdemeanors, but the consequences include fines and additional points on the driving record. If convicted of a traffic violation, the offender may be subject to suspension or revocation of a driver’s license. In line with the New Hampshire DMV laws, a first offense could lead to a minimum of a $500 fine along with a 60-day license suspension. To pay a ticket/citation fee online, the following are required:

  • An email address
  • A copy of the ticket
  • A valid credit or debit card

Traffic tickets must be paid before driving privileges can be re-established. If summoned by the court, failure to appear for a hearing may attract a $50 administrative fee, driver’s license and driving privileges may be suspended by the DMV, and a bench warrant for arrest may also be issued. Once a license is suspended, an additional $100 may be charged by the state. Aside from these, the state could also declare mandatory counseling, rehabilitation classes, jail time, and other related punishments. In dire cases involving children, the court may impose penalties on adults for such violations.

Examples of Traffic Infractions in New Hampshire?

The following are common examples of traffic infractions in New Hampshire:

  • Improper turning
  • Speeding
  • Driving without the use of seatbelts
  • Violation of any license regulation
  • Possession of a radar-jamming device
  • Failure to use blinkers
  • Running a red light
  • Illegal parking
  • Driving at a slower than normal speed on highways
  • Driving with alcohol in the vehicle
  • Fleeing from an officer
  • Fleeing from an accident scene
  • Driving too close to a vehicle (tailgating)
  • Unsafe lane changing

How Does Traffic Ticket Work in New Hampshire?

A traffic ticket is a notice issued to lawbreakers of the driving rule in New Hampshire. Citations are issued by the law enforcement agents of the highway patrol division and contain information about court summons, court contact details as well as how to pay the fine attached. Moving violation tickets are issued when traffic offenses occur with a vehicle in motion, such as speeding tickets. Non-moving violations deal with traffic infractions when the vehicle is at rest, such as illegal parking. However, there are some moving violations categorized as non-moving violations in New Hampshire. An example is driving without a seatbelt. Based on the traffic law of the state of New Hampshire, traffic violators may be subject to penalties that involve fines after pleading guilty, and in other cases, offenders may face jail time and license suspension when a serious traffic violation occurs. New Hampshire employs a point system (one to six) to track traffic infractions called demerit points, and it is given based on the type of traffic rule broken. If too many are accumulated, it may result in the suspension or revoking of a driver’s license. Examples are:

  • Speeding - 3 to 4 points based on the posted limit
  • Aggravated DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) - 6 points
  • Abandoning a car- 3 points

An alleged traffic offender may desire to get a traffic ticket dismissed by ticking the pleading “not guilty” box on the traffic ticket and requesting a contested hearing at the relevant county court by mail.

Are Traffic/Driving Records Public in New Hampshire?

According to New Hampshire Rights to Know Law, records are made available for public inspection and copying following a request. Furthermore, the government agency is required to respond within five business days. However, certain records cannot be disclosed if the files have been sealed prior to the query. Driving records are public in New Hampshire, and to obtain a driving record, the NH motor vehicle record release form must be duly completed. If the requester is a third party, the individual is mandated to provide a full name, mailing address, a contact telephone number, and a signature. Information that can be found on a New Hampshire driving record are as follows:

  • Details about a driver
  • Driving history
  • Infractions (this can stay on a record typically for 3 years)
  • License suspension and revocations.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. Operating independently of any state agency, these websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How to Find Traffic/Driving Records in New Hampshire?

Records of traffic offenses are maintained by the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Interested persons may visit the agency in-person to obtain a driving record. Convictions resulting from traffic violations remain on the offender’s driving record for a maximum of 5 years. From the driving record, traffic violators may be able to deduct points by completing an online defensive driving course. To obtain a personal driver record, the first step is to download and complete the Record Release Form (DSMV 505). The next process is to follow the steps below:

  • Tick driver record from the Driver Information heading.
  • Tick the first box that indicates “as the vehicle owner”.
  • Provide personal details such as name, date of birth, mailing address, telephone number, and license or non-driver identification number
  • Study the penalty clause
  • Provide signature and date the form
  • Mail the form with a $15 payment to any DMV office of the relevant county or to;

NH Dept. of Safety
DMV - FR Records
23 Hazen Drive
Concord NH 03305

Can Traffic Violations and Infractions be Expunged/Sealed in New Hampshire?

Traffic lawbreakers are vulnerable to collateral damages that result from traffic infractions, which can last for a minimum of 3 years on the offender’s driving record. These damages can hinder the chances of gaining school admission, employment, and holding public offices. Sealing or expunging of records ensures that a violator’s criminal record is wiped clean by preventing public access to such information. Nevertheless, crime documents are still accessible to law enforcement authorities.

The statute of New Hampshire allows for sealing or expungement of records by filing a Petition to Annul Records of a criminal conviction for a traffic offense, but only if certain criteria are met. In New Hampshire, most acts of a misdemeanor are eligible for expungement, including speeding and DUI (Driving Under the Influence).

Before misdemeanor charges can be annulled, a waiting period of at least three years must be met. Nevertheless, the waiting period depends on the severity of the crime committed. Speeding tickets and DUIs are 7-year and 10-year wait respectively. The following are the eligibility criteria for record expungement in New Hampshire:

  • Completion of sentence terms and waiting period (depends on how grievous the crime)
  • If the case was dismissed
  • If the alleged offender was proven innocent

Depending on the court involved, there is an appropriate fee for filing an expungement case. If the petition is denied, the violator must wait for three years before refilling with or without the aid of an attorney.

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