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First-time DWI offenders may be able to stay on road if N.H. bill becomes law


CONCORD, N.H. –  State legislators in New Hampshire are considering a bill that would give first-time drunk driving offenders a way to stay on the road.

According to the new law, if passed, the judges will have to power to decide to allow a first-time DWI offender to stay on the road using a limited license if the person used and paid for a car ignition sobriety system and also provided a need to drive.  The interlock system requires the driver to blow into the device to start the car and if it detects too much alcohol in the driver’s system, it prevents the car from turning on.

State Rep. Steve Shurtleff  explained that the driving privileges would be restricted to keeping or getting a job, attending treatment programs, receiving medical care, or taking an immediate family for health-care appointments.

He further said, “I think this is a win-win for everybody. It keeps people that are impaired of the highways because of the device on the vehicle. It also provides a person to continue to earn a livelihood and support their families as they should.”

The bill is getting bipartisan support and passed the House on a 17-1 vote.

Rep. Bob Fesh, a member of the New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee favors the bill, saying, “This doesn’t put a family on welfare because you had a DWI and lost your job.”

New Hampshire sheriffs are against the bill but lawmakers in favor of it have the support of the advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Those group members want to see more interlocking devices for convicted drunk drivers.

“It sends a bad message to drunk drivers,

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