Habitual Offender

WHAT IS HABITUAL OFFENDER?

What does it mean to be Habitual Offender?  First, please know that the term “Habitual Offender” only applies to your driving record.  It does not mean you are a career criminal.  It does not mean that you are now on the sex offender registry.  Being a Habitual Offender in New Hampshire means that your driving record is in such bad shape, that the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles (“NH DMV”) has decided to indefinitely suspend your license.

Yes.  That’s right.  If you receive a letter from the NH DMV ordering you to attend (or appear for) a Habitual Offender hearing, it means you are about to lose your license for a longtime.

How long? Anywhere from 1 year to 4 years.

How did this happen?  If you have been tagged for a Habitual Offender hearing, then the truth is this day has been in the works for quite sometime.  No one becomes a Habitual Offender overnight.  Chances are your driving record is less than stellar. According to New Hampshire law, you are destined to be certified by NH DMV if you rack up the following combinations of motor vehicle convictions:

3 major motor vehicle offenses within 5 years

2 major + 4 minor motor vehicle offenses within 5 years

1 major + 8 minor motor vehicle offenses within 5 years

12 minor motor vehicle offenses within 5 years

What is a major motor vehicle offense?  It is actually a rather long list.  Major motor vehicle offense convictions are DWI’s/OUI’s/DUI’s, Driving with a Suspended License, Disobeying Police Officer, Leaving Scene of an Accident, Reckless Driving, and Negligent Driving to name a few. A complete list of majors is provided on the page below.

What is a minor motor vehicle offense?    There are only 4 minor motor vehicle offenses in New Hampshire and they are 1) Speeding, 2) Ignoring Highway traffic markings, 3) Driving Without a Proper/Valid Licencse, and Not Having Proof of Insurance if you are required to do so.

So, I am about to certified as a Habitual Offender by the NH DMV.  What do I do? Is it too late for me?  The first thing you want to do is call a lawyer who is experienced and familiar with NH traffic laws, and the Habitual Offender certification process.  Then explain to the lawyer what your driving record looks like.  Tell him/her how many traffic tickets you have paid and how many driving offenses you have been to court for in the last 5 years.

Don’t worry if you can’t remember all of them.  Both your lawyer and the DMV will be acquiring certified copies of your driving history.  Then, once the driving record is in your lawyer’s hands, explain to him/her the circumstances by which you were convicted of the driving offenses.  Don’t leave anything out.

Did you have a lawyer when you went to court?

Did the judge or prosecutor explain to you that anyone one of these motor vehicle offenses could one day cause you to become certified as an Habitual Offender?

Is English your native language?

Do you have any mental health challenges that made it difficult to understand what you were doing when you appeared in traffic court?

All of these considerations may affect whether you end up being certified as an Habitual Offender. One of the reasons OSBORNE LAW always asks our clients to provide us with a driving record, is sometimes the convictions are too old to be used to certify you as a Habitual Offender.  Other times the convictions are incorrectly recorded, and thus the discovery of these errors prevents you from mistakenly becoming a certified Habitual Offender.

No! It is not too late.  Just because you are scheduled to become a Habitual Offender doesn’t mean it is time to give up the fight.  You still have to convince the DMV to not take your license for 4 years, or 3 years, or 2 years.  If your lawyer knows what he/she is doing, and your driving record isn’t too bad – then you may be able to keep your license suspension to no more tha 1 year (the absolute mandatory minimum under New Hampshire law).  At OSBORNE LAW, we make sure you have a fair and meaningful hearing.

Attorney Mark Osborne will tell the DMV about all the positive things in your life.  If you work, if you care for sick or elderly family members, if you have changed your ways, if you have committed yourself to a healthy life and gotten away from the booze and drugs, if you save a child from drowning at the local pond, etc.  All of these factors matter.  At OSBORNE LAW, we know you are a human being and you are NOT defined by words on a page.  Attorney Mark Osborne will make sure the DMV knows this too.

HABITUAL OFFENDER QUALIFYING OFFENSES UNDER NEW HAMPSHIRE RSA 259:39

Here is the law in New Hampshire that the DMV looks at to decide whether you are condemned to become a Habitual Offender.  Attorney Mark Osborne does not expect you to know or have memorized the entire NH motor vehicle code, so to the right of the RSA numbers and citations he has provided a plain-spoken name for each of these traffic offenses.

A person who meets the requirements of one of the following three paragraphs shall be certified as an habitual offender:

Three or more convictions, singularly or in combination, of the following offenses:
(a) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 261:73;         FALSE STATEMENT
(b) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 262:1, I;        TITLE FRAUD
(c) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 262:8;          CONCEALMENT OF VEHICLE ID
(d) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 262:12;        JOYRIDING
(e) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 262:13;         MASTER KEY POSSESSION
(f) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 263:12, V;     DRIVER LICENSE PROHIBITIONS
(g) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 263:64;        DRIVING WITH A SUSPENDED LICENSE
(h) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 264:25;        LEAVING SCENE/CONDUCT AFTER ACCIDENT
(i) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 265:4;           DISOBEYING/OUTRUNNING POLICE OFFICER
(j) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 265:79;         RECKLESS DRIVING/NEGLIGENT

DRIVING/VEHICULAR ASSAULT

(k) Conviction of any offense involving a vehicle specified in RSA 265-A:2, I;           DWI/DUI/OUI
(l) Conviction of any offense involving a vehicle specified in RSA 265-A:3;               AGGRAVATED DWI/DUI/OUI
(m) Conviction under RSA 630:2 of MANSLAUGHTER resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
(n) Conviction under RSA 630:3 of a NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
(o) Conviction of any FELONY in which a motor vehicle is used;
(p) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 265:75;                                                   ROAD RACING
(q) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 265:54;                                                   PASSING A SCHOOL BUS
(r) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 265:82;                                                   DWI (OLD REPEALED DWI LAW)
(s) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 265:82-a;                                               AGGRAVATED DWI (“              “)
(t) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 262:23;                                                   DRIVING WHILE BEING HABITUAL OFFENDER
(u) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 265-A:43; or                                         POSSESSION OF DRUGS IN A MOTOR VEHICLE
(v) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 265:79-b.                                               NEGLIGENT DRIVING

II. Twelve or more convictions, singularly or in combination, of the following offenses:
(a) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 265:22.                                                  HIGHWAY MARKINGS
(b) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 265:60.                                                 SPEEDING
(c) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 263:1.                                                    DRIVING WITHOUT A LICENSE
(d) Conviction of any offense specified in RSA 263:63.                                                 NO PROOF OF INSURANCE IF REQUIRED

III. A combination of one conviction of an offense specified under paragraph I and at least 8 convictions, singularly or in combination, of offenses specified under paragraph II; or a combination of 2 convictions, singularly or in combination, of offenses specified under paragraph I and at least 4 convictions, singularly or in combination, of offenses specified under paragraph II.