Criminal Defense & DWI
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys
Neil Nicholson is an experienced criminal defense attorney, representing individuals charged with criminal conduct, ranging from violations, to misdemeanors, to felonies. His experience before becoming an attorney as a detective and criminal investigator is invaluable in helping him defend clients charged with drug possession, assault, domestic violence, and other crimes. Neil has tried numerous criminal cases to judges and juries.
Neil is an experienced trial lawyer, and can defend you against DWI/DUI charges and other criminal charges in New Hampshire. He understands all aspects of the arrest process, beginning from the point your vehicle is first pulled over, continuing to field sobriety tests, and concluding with your release after booking. Neil was certified at the New Hampshire police academy in the Standard Field Sobriety Tests, was a certified Intoxilyzer Operator, and administered the tests hundreds of times on the side of the road. Neil also trained other officers on DWI detection. An officer who arrests you for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs, known as DWI or DUI, must have first been trained. Neil went through this same training in the police academy and uses his knowledge and experience in DWI detection and administration to defend you in your DWI or DUI case. Clients benefit from Neil’s comprehensive knowledge and experience and his ability to identify where the arresting officer failed properly to administer the tests.
Neil represents clients in the following matters:
- Drug offenses
- Alcohol offenses
- Firearms offenses
- Disorderly Conduct
- Criminal Threatening
- Criminal Restraint
- Violations and Misdemeanors
- Administrative License Suspension Hearings
- Motor Vehicle Hearings
- Second Degree Assault
- Criminal Mischief/Vandalism
- Computer Crimes
- Bail Jumping
- Negligent Homicide
- Reckless Conduct
- Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
- Habitual Offender
- Aggravated DWI
- Criminal Trespass
- First Degree Assault
As a criminal defense and DWI lawyer, Neil Nicholson regularly handles DWI cases and administrative license suspension hearings. Call him today for a free consultation at 603.856.8441 or send us a message.
The Drunk Driving Life Cycle
The life cycle of a Drunk Driving Case begins with detection of a possible drunk driver before the officer decides to arrest. Pre-arrest detection occurs in three parts: (1) observing a moving vehicle; (2) stopping the vehicle and interacting with the driver; and (3) conducting field sobriety tests. At first the officer observes how you operate your vehicle. If the officer decides to stop you, he or she then observes your speech, appearance, and conduct. The officer may then conduct standardized field sobriety tests, non-standard tests, and perhaps a preliminary breath test. In each interaction, the officer makes judgment decisions that could impact whether or not you will be charged with DWI/DUI. Having an attorney review these steps in your “DWI Life Cycle” can help you defend against a DWI charge.
Does the police officer need a reason to pull me over?
Yes. Some common reasons for a stop include seeing the driver weaving, speeding, running stop signs or red lights, or committing other motor vehicle violations. Erratic speed, drifting, swerving, crossing the center line, driving without your headlights on, or taking too long to start driving once a light turns green are other observations that might justify an officer stopping your vehicle. This is a crucial stage in the DWI life cycle. A police officer cannot stop you (called a “seizure”) unless he or she has reasonable suspicion to believe the driver has, is, or was about to engage in unlawful activity. I will be able to analyze the facts and tell you whether or not you have an argument that the officer conducted an unlawful seizure. If so, your chances of having your case dismissed increase tremendously.
How does an officer know to ask me to get out of the car for some tests?
The officer decides to ask you to get out of the care based on your interaction with him or her — by speaking with you and looking at you. Certain clues of intoxication include an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the driver’s mouth, bloodshot eyes, speech problems, admitting to drinking, poor coordination, and slowed reactions. There may be reasons for these observations that have nothing to do with impairment or drunk driving. This is why you should speak with an experienced drunk driving defense attorney to ask the right questions and find out why certain clues noted by the officer are unrelated to intoxication.
What is an officer looking for in the field sobriety tests?
In most cases, prior to arrest an officer will have subjected you to the standardized field sobriety tests. The standardized tests include the horizontal gaze nystgamus (HGN), walk and turn test, and one leg stand test. Non-standard tests include requiring you to recite portions of the alphabet, the count-down test or the finger count test. Both types of tests, standardized and non-standardized, are divided attention tests. An impaired person has more difficulty dividing attention between two tasks, and therefore, when properly administered, the tests can indicate intoxication. The standardized tests, or SFTSs, are considered “scientifically valid” if administered properly and under the proper conditions. The tests focus on the abilities to drive safely, evaluating your balance, coordination and ability process information. As an experienced drunk driving defense attorney and former police officer who gave the tests to roadside subjects, I can review the facts of your case and prepare a defense if the tests were not properly administered.
What is the preliminary breath test?
The police officer conducts the preliminary breath test (“PBT”) using a hand held device that analyzes the percentage of your Breath Alcohol Content (BrAC). The device is not as accurate as other methods to determine your BrAC or Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”). To use the results of the PBT as a legitimate basis to arrest you, the device must have been properly calibrated, checked, and you must have been provided with certain information about it by the officer. I can review your facts to identify whether the PBT evidence can be used against you at trial.
When faced with a DWI conviction, people often think about the immediate consequences: fines, potential jail time, and a license suspension. But there also are other long-term collateral consequences of a DWI conviction, including an increase in insurance rates that can make driving extremely expensive. We can help you.
Located centrally in Concord, New Hampshire, Neil has represented clients throughout the state including in the areas covering Portsmouth, Concord, Manchester, Nashua, Merrimack, Bedford, North Conway, Hanover, Rochester, Hudson, Pelham, Londonderry, Windham, Bow, the Lakes Region, Gilford, Raymond, Epping, Hollis, Somersworth, Stratham, Candia, Hooksett, Weare, Milford, Amherst, Lebanon, Derry, Somersworth, Exeter, Dover, Durham, Derry, Franklin, Laconia, Goffstown, Londonderry, Plymouth, Hillsborough, Henniker, Rindge, Lebanon, Rye, Hampton, Keene, Peterborough, and everywhere in between.