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Nh Contemplates Lowering Blood Alcohol Limits to 0.05 (Again)

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NH Blood Alcohol – The current legal limit for blood alcohol level when driving is 0.08.  People in New Hampshire could soon be under greater scrutiny for what level of alcohol they carry around in their blood when driving. This seems to be a topic that has been revived every few years since NH signed on to the last national trend of moving the limit from 0.10 to 0.08. The lower new limit of 0.05 is suggested based on a new study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.


One common misconception in DUI laws is that you have to be drunk to be guilty. That could not be further from the truth. The State has two ways of winning a DUI charge: proving that you were impaired, or proving that your blood alcohol level exceeded a certain amount.

Proving impairment requires the prosecution to offer evidence that your ability to drive was actually worse than it would be without the alcohol, even if that difference is minimal. Regardless, there must be a determination that the alcohol is doing something whether your blood alcohol level is 0.01 or 0.15. It’s a case-by-case determination that considers the makeup that each individual.

This second way the State can win a DUI case is to show your blood alcohol level is over the limit. This is called a per se limit. This means that as long as the State proves that your blood had enough alcohol to get a reading of 0.08 at the time you were driving, you lose regardless of whether you were feeling the effects of alcohol. As one could imagine, if you submit to a breath or blood test, and the numbers are over 0.08, your trial is generally pretty quick. It wouldn’t matter to point out that you looked stone sober, passed the physical tests, or did roadside calculus. This is where the conventional wisdom that you “shouldn’t blow” comes from. Lawyers want to put the State to its proof and have the chance to scrutinize whether you were actually impaired.

Blood Alcohol Levels for Driving

Many people, especially those with high tolerances, will not feel the effects of a night out but then be shocked to learn that their alcohol level is well over the limit. Those same people will be dismayed when a judge looks at the results of their blood or breath test and says “guilty.”

At the other end of the spectrum, someone that is able to prove that the content of alcohol in their blood was .03% or lower also proves their sobriety. That’s the per se level to show that you couldn’t be impaired by alcohol. If the limit were to move to 0.05%, people that are far from feeling the effects of alcohol. In fact, at one point in our state’s history, 0.05% BAC was evidence that the person was sober.

Navigating the DUI laws and creating a DUI defense can be extremely complicated and requires immediate planning to ensure that you’ve exercised any available rights in pursuit of a fair shake. To get started, call us at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C., (603) 288-1403 or fill out our online contact form.