October 30. 2013 6:53PM

Bill would allow first-time DWI offenders to get restricted license

State House Bureau

CONCORD — First-time drunk driving offenders would be allowed to drive to and from work and treatment and for medical care under a bill a House committee voted to approve Wednesday.

The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 16-1 to establish a restricted license for first-time, drunk-driving offenders after they have had their license suspended for 14 days.

Under House Bill 496, an offender could petition the court for a limited license that would allow him or her to drive to work and back, to look for work, to attend substance abuse treatment programs and for medical emergencies for family members.

The license would also limit the time and days a person could drive and would cost $50.

To participate in the program, a driver would have to pay for an ignition interlock device that prevents a vehicle from starting if the person has alcohol on his or her breath.

Former police officer Rep. Delmar Burridge, D-Keene, noted that a first-time offender really means it is the first-time he or she has been caught and the person has driven drunk many times before.

But Rep. Gene Charron, R-Chester, said he had a friend who was convicted of driving while intoxicated who told him, “they want me to go to counseling, but I have no way to get there.”

The bill will be voted on during the first three session days of the 2014 Legislature.