But even defendants who didn’t opt to complete the program could get their licenses reinstated at the end of the suspension period.
That’s no longer the case.
“Those people who think, ‘I won’t do the treatment; I’ll just wait out the suspension and get my license back’ are wrong. That isn’t going to happen any more,” said Patti Fowler, impaired driver intervention service coordinator for the New Hampshire Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services.
“(Those convicted) have to complete the treatment program or they’ll never get their licenses back.”
Fowler acknowledges it’s going to take time for people to understand the new treatment regime.
For first-time offenders, within 14 days of conviction, they must be “screened” by a state-approved Impaired Drivers Care Management Program to determine if they show a propensity for substance abuse. The screening takes about an hour and costs $75.
If no problem is found, defendants then complete the 20-hour Impaired Drivers Education Program, after which license reinstatement is possible.
If the initial screening detects a likely substance abuse problem, the defendant must schedule a more extensive “evaluation” at a state-approved IDCMP within 30 days of conviction and complete it within 60 days, at a cost of $200. Upon a negative result, the defendant then must complete the 20-hour program for license reinstatement.
For those evaluated positive for existing or potential substance abuse, a service plan for more treatment and/or recovery support would be developed, at additional cost, in addition to the 20-hour IDEP program. Treatment and support services must come from state-approved licensed drug and alcohol counselors.
Currently, out-of-state convicted offenders must access Granite State-approved IDCMP providers for screenings and evaluations, Fowler said. There are now 17 sites throughout the state, with more possible in the future, she said. The closest sites in southeastern New Hampshire are in Epping, Portsmouth and Dover.