new hampshire driving information
Curious about New Hampshire's driving laws, point system, or licensing info? You're in the right place. Browse through our fact sheet to get a clear picture of driving in the Granite State.
New Hampshire driving information
Number of licensed drivers: 1,034,000
Registered vehicles: 1,212,000
Licensing and registration authority: New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles
Penalties, violations, and your New Hampshire driving record
Since your driving record is a major factor in what you pay for car insurance, it's good to know your state's rules and regulations.
New Hampshire's point system
Certain convictions for traffic violations add points to your driving record, and the number of points depends on the severity of the offense. Most violations add between 2–6 points, and these stay on your record for a period of 3 years.
If you're 21 or older and have 12 points on your driving record, your drivers license could be suspended for up to 3 months. For drivers who are 18–20, a total of 9 points leads to a license suspension. And for drivers under 18, that number is 6 points.
Distracted driving in New Hampshire
Texting while driving is illegal for all drivers. It's a primary law, meaning you can be pulled over and cited for texting and driving without first committing some other infraction.
Definitions and penalties for DUIs in New Hampshire
The BAC (blood alcohol concentration) limits in New Hampshire are .08 for those over 21 and .02 for those under 21. First-time offenders convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) pay a minimum fine of $500, lose driving privileges for at least 9 months, and have to complete an impaired driver intervention program. These penalties escalate for a second offense.
Definitions and penalties for DWIs
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a separate offense from a DUI. Any of these actions can result in a DWI:
- Driving a car with a BAC of .16 or higher
- Driving 30 mph or more over the speed limit while under the influence
- Causing an accident that seriously injures another person while under the influence
- Fleeing from police while under the influence
- Transporting a passenger under 16 while under the influence
First-time DWI offenders pay a minimum fine of $750, face jail time, lose driving privileges for at least 18 months, and have to complete a DWI offender intervention program.
Reporting car accidents in New Hampshire
You're legally required to file an accident report with the DMV within 15 days if it involved an injury or any property damage of $1,000 or more.
This does not apply if the police are called to the scene, as their official report will be sufficient.
Seat belt law
New Hampshire is the only state that doesn't require drivers and passengers to use safety restraints. Consequently, just 69 percent of front-seat occupants were observed using them in 2009 (only Wyoming had a lower percentage).
Even though it's not mandatory, we strongly encourage all vehicle occupants to strap in for safety. In 2009, 62 percent of New Hampshire's driving deaths involved people who weren't using restraints, a figure well above the national average of 49.2 percent.
Moving to New Hampshire
New residents have 60 days to register their vehicles with the state and swap their out-of-state drivers licenses for New Hampshire ones.
Renewing driver's licenses if you're in the military
If you're stationed outside of New Hampshire when your drivers license expires, you can renew by mail so long as your photo ID is on file. You'll need to get your photo ID updated within 30 days of returning to New Hampshire.
The young driver licensing process in New Hampshire
New Hampshire teens can start practicing in preparation for the drivers license test at 15 1/2 years old (so long as it's with a licensed driver who is 25 or older).
There are some requirements you'll have to meet before you can get your drivers license (also known as a youth operator license for those under 18). And the state has some driving restrictions you must abide by.
Youth operator drivers license requirements
- Be at least 16 years old
- Complete 30 hours of classroom study with a certified instructor
- Complete 10 hours of driving practice with a certified instructor
- Complete 6 hours of observation with a certified instructor
- Log 40 hours (10 at night) of supervised driving practice with a licensed adult over 25
- Pass a vision screening, knowledge exam, and driving test
Youth operator license restrictions
Until you turn 18, your youth operator license allows you to drive on your own but with these limitations:
- Everyone in the car must wear a seat belt
- No driving between 1 a.m.–4 a.m.
- For the first 6 months, no more than one passenger under 25 allowed (not including family members)
Esurance guide to car insurance in New Hampshire
Find out what coverages you'll need if you choose to buy car insurance.
How the seat belt came to be
Spend some time with our blog and treat yourself to a (surprisingly) fascinating history lesson.
New Hampshire DMV
Need to register a car or renew your license? Check out New Hampshire's DMV website.