ANTITHEFT LAWS, OFFENSES, PENALTIES, HABITUAL OFFENDERS, ARREST OF NONRESIDENTS AND ABANDONED VEHICLES
Penalties and Court Appearances
262:44 Waiver in Lieu of Court Appearance; Default.
Any person charged with a violation of the provisions of title XXI on vehicles, excluding a violation of RSA 263:1-a, RSA 265:79, RSA 265-A:2, RSA 265-A:3, RSA 265:115, RSA 265:117, a speeding offense under RSA 265:60 for which the defendant must appear in court, and any offense which is a misdemeanor or felony, may plead guilty, nolo contendere, or not guilty by mail in the following manner:
I. Such defendant shall receive, in addition to the summons, a uniform fine schedule entitled "Notice of Fine, Division of Motor Vehicles" which shall contain the normal fines for violations of the provisions of title XXI on vehicles for which a plea may be entered by mail. The defendant shall be given a notice of fine indicating the amount of the fine plus penalty assessment at the time the summons is issued; except if, for cause, the summoning authority wishes the defendant to appear personally. Defendants summoned to appear personally shall do so on the arraignment date specified in the summons, unless otherwise ordered by the court. Defendants who are issued a summons and notice of fine and who wish to plead guilty or nolo contendere shall enter their plea on the summons and return it with payment of the fine plus penalty assessment to the director of the division of motor vehicles within 30 days of the date of the summons. The director of the division of motor vehicles may accept payment of the fine by credit card in lieu of cash payment. Any transaction costs assessed by the issuer of the credit card shall be paid out of the portion of the fine amount which is credited to the highway fund and not out of the penalty assessment charged by the district court. The director of the division of motor vehicles shall remit the penalty assessments collected to the state treasurer to be credited and continually appropriated to the state general fund and to the victims' assistance fund and the judicial branch information technology fund in the percentages and manner prescribed in RSA 106-L:10. Fines shall be paid over to the state treasurer, and shall be credited to the highway fund within 14 days of their receipt.
II. If the defendant wishes to enter a not guilty plea, he shall enter such plea on the summons and return it to the division of motor vehicles within 30 days of the date of the summons. The division shall transmit the plea to the appropriate court and the court shall schedule a trial. Upon the conclusion of the trial, the court shall transmit the result of the trial to the division for division records.
III. (a) Whenever a defendant:
(1) Does not enter a plea-by-mail with the director of the division of motor vehicles within 30 days of the date of the summons or, if required to appear in court personally, does not appear personally or by counsel at the court on or before the required date or move for a continuance; or
(2) Fails to pay a fine or other penalty in connection with a conviction of a title XXI offense or payment of such fine or other penalty is uncollectible or unacceptable pursuant to RSA 6:11-a, the defendant shall be defaulted. In cases where the defendant has failed to enter a plea-by-mail with the director, the director of designee shall determine what the fine would be upon a plea of guilty or nolo contendere and shall impose an administrative processing fee in addition to the fine and penalty assessment. In cases where the defendant has defaulted on a court obligation, the court shall determine what the fine would be upon a plea of guilty or nolo contendere and shall impose an administrative processing fee in addition to the fine and penalty assessment. In any case, the defendant's driving privileges shall be suspended as provided in RSA 263:56-a.
(b) Whenever a defendant otherwise fails to appear for a scheduled court appearance in connection with a summons for any violation level offense for which a defendant may plea by mail, the court shall proceed to hear the state's evidence, by offer of proof or otherwise, and enter a finding in accordance therewith. If a finding of guilty is made, the court shall set the fine, and the clerk shall mail or deliver to the defendant's last known address a notice of finding and imposition of fine form approved by the administrative justice of the district court, appointed under supreme court rule. Payment in full shall be required within 30 days from the date of the notice. Any defendant who fails to make the payment shall be subject to the provisions of RSA 262:44, III(a)(1)-(2). No finding made by the court shall be set aside except for cause.
(c) In defaulted court cases for violations of title XXI, the court shall notify the director of the division of motor vehicles of the defendant's default, and the amounts of the fine and other penalties, on a form prescribed by the director or by electronic means. The amount of the administrative processing fee shall be determined by the New Hampshire supreme court in accordance with the provisions of RSA 502-A:19-b, V and shall be retained by the court for the benefit of the state in those cases in which the fee is assessed by the court. In other cases, the fee shall be retained by the department of safety for the benefit of the state.
IV. The court may, in its discretion, issue a bench warrant for the arrest of any defendant who:
(a) Has defaulted as provided in RSA 262:44, III; or
(b) Fails to pay a fine or other penalty imposed in connection with a conviction of any offense which a court has determined the defendant is able to pay, or payment of a fine or other penalty is uncollectible or unacceptable, pursuant to RSA 6:11-a; or
(c) Fails to comply with a similar court order of the director or a court on any matter within the director's or court's jurisdiction.
V. For cause, the court in its discretion may refuse to accept a plea by mail and may impose a fine other than that prescribed by the uniform fine schedule. the court may order the defendant to appear personally in court for the disposition of the case.
VI. The uniform fine schedule referred to in paragraph I shall be developed pursuant to RSA 502-A:19-b, V.
VII. The commissioner of the department of safety shall adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, relative to the forms and procedures required for the division of motor vehicles and department of safety to carry out their duties and responsibilities under this section.
VIII. The commissioner of the department of safety shall make an annual report 60 days after the close of each fiscal year to the fiscal committee of the general court on fines and fines in default, paid and unpaid, for each year beginning with 1993.
Source. RSA 262:37-a. 1975, 116:1. 1981, 146:1. 1992, 257:23. 1993, 140:1. 1999, 261:4. 2004, 183:2. 2006, 260:19. 2008, 223:2, 3; 237:6. 2009, 144:117. 2012, 247:26. 2013, 144:105, eff. July 1, 2013. 2016, 319:9, eff. July 1, 2016. 2017, 206:14, eff. Sept. 8, 2017. 2019, 346:160, eff. July 1, 2019.