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New Hampshire Breathalyzer

New Hampshire’s driving while intoxicated (DWI) “per se” laws make it a crime for a driver to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher. To determine your BAC, an officer may ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test after pulling you over on suspicion of DWI. This test measures the alcohol in your breath to calculate the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream.

Before an officer can make a DWI arrest, he or she must have probable cause to believe that you are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. This is where the preliminary breath test comes in. This small, hand-held device can be administered roadside, after you have finished performing the field sobriety tests. In New Hampshire, most law enforcement agencies use the S-D5 machine, which is manufactured by CMI, Inc.

While the results of the preliminary breath test may be used as evidence against you in court, this test--unlike the evidentiary breath test--is completely voluntary. In fact, your refusal to take this test cannot be used against you during the trial, unless your defense lawyer is questioning whether probable cause existed for your drunk-driving arrest.

In addition to the preliminary breath test, you may be asked to submit to an evidentiary breath test at the police station after being arrested for DWI. Conducted on the Intoxilyzer 5000EN, this test is used to determine if you are in violation of New Hampshire’s per se DWI law.

If you were arrested after failing the breathalyzer, please know that there are several factors that may have caused an inaccurate reading. Your temperature, use of mints, gum, or alcohol, and medical conditions, such as acid reflux, could produce inflated results. Preliminary breath test devices run on batteries, which may cause errors if the battery power is running low.

If you test over the legal limit, or decline to take the breathalyzer test altogether, your license may be automatically suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) 30 days after your arrest; however, you have the right to request a hearing to appeal your suspension during this time period.