Although one of the smallest states in the Union with also one of the lowest populations, its density is actually higher than the average state, but does not have any major cities to contribute to congestion and therefore higher crash fatalities. It also has a well maintained highway system that includes comprehensive signage. Listed as one of the top 10 best states to be a driver in its drivers enjoy relatively low insurance, low crash fatalities and high mandatory financial responsibility requirements, if not mandatory insurance.
After an Accident
Never leave the scene of an accident in New Hampshire or fail to report an accident within 15 days if it caused death or injury. Failure to do so is considered a felony in the state. Doing so can result in a fine, license suspension and even arrest.
Directly after an accident, ensure that everyone in your vehicle is ok and not injured. If anyone is insured, be sure not to move them until you ascertain the extent of their injuries. If possible remove vehicles from the flow of traffic and then check on the other pedestrian or vehicle occupants for injuries. If there are injuries call for an ambulance or EMS immediately to prevent unexpected consequences. When there are no injuries you can then exchange information including name, address, license number, insurance and telephone numbers. It is better not to make any quick decisions at the accident site.
Take pictures of your vehicle and the damage of the other vehicle to ensure they coincide with later accounts of the accident. If anyone is injured or killed, hiring a car accident attorney immediately is the best recommendation. If you feel it will be settled through insurance companies without court, an attorney is still your best bet for a fair settlement.
New Hampshire’s Modified Comparative Fault Rule
With the at fault system in place in New Hampshire any accident that does more than $1000 damage, involves an injury or death will most likely be affected by this rule. No matter if the case is settled in an insurance negotiated settlement or in a civil lawsuit, the comparative fault rule is generally taken into consideration.
This fault rule is modified in New Hampshire to reflect the fact that if you agree to fault of 50% or more in a private settlement, insurance settlement or labeled so in a civil suit, you will be not eligible to receive any compensation for your damages from the accident. In insurance settlements, this rule is applied in order to lower settlements for plaintiffs that are considered “partially” at fault. Without a proper lawyer you may be assigned a fault percentage higher than you agree with and unable to argue against. If you are assigned 30% blame, your settlement will be reduced by 30%, which may be substantial and cause hardship if you were injured in the accident.
Demerit System for Traffic Violations
The demerit point system in New Hampshire results in suspension if you accrue too many points in a given amount of time. Points accumulated remain on your record for three years before they expire. However, New Hampshire’s point system is divided into three age categories, making penalties for moving violations for young drivers harsher and more easily assessed. For example drivers under 18 receive a 3 month suspension for 6 points received in a calendar year, whereas those under 21 require 9 points and those over 21 require 12 points for the same suspension.
The system also recognizes Habitual Offenders through the driving record and decided upon in a hearing by the DMV’s Bureaus of Hearings. If a license is revoked from a Habitual Offender the decertification of the HO tag is quite intensive, ensuring the safety of all drivers.
Driving While Intoxicated
The DWI laws in New Hampshire provide enforcement officers with the ability to charge individuals with DWI even if they are under the legal 0.8% BAC limit. This can be done if the officer feels the driver’s skills are still impaired even though they are under the legal limit. State sobriety tests can include a Breathalyzer test, blood or urine tests and even roadside balance tests. With implied consent laws in place you are required to take the tests if requested or face stiffer license suspension results.
Administrative and court awarded penalties are available in New Hampshire with the penalties by a court being awarded in addition to the administrative penalties. License suspensions can be quite harsh in New Hampshire with 1st offense ranges being 90 days to 2 years depending on the circumstances of the charge. The state also requires a SR-22 for three years, an Impaired Driver Care Management course and the installation of an ignition interlock system.