Sununu signs law increasing penalties for repeat drunken drivers

By Todd DeFeo | The Center Square

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed into law legislation stiffening penalties for repeat drunken drivers who kill or injure others.

Under House Bill 179-FN, known as Tyler Shaw’s Law, drivers convicted of negligent homicide and who have a previous DWI conviction face 10 to 20 years in prison. Offenders with two or more previous convictions could face 15 to 30 years in prison.

The law is named for a 20-year-old Concord resident killed in April 2018 by a drunken driver who ran a stop sign. According to reports, the driver was previously convicted twice and sentenced in 2019 to six to 12 years in prison.

“Tyler was loved by so many. He had a great sense of humor. He was the heart of our family,” WMUR-TV quoted Beth Shaw, Tyler Shaw’s mother and an advocate for the legislation, as saying.

“If we continue to do it and it’s not working, it’s not going to work,” she added. “So, you need to make change. So, I hope, with Tyler’s help, I can make that change.”

According to the Concord Monitor, between Oct. 11, 2017, and May 11, the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles indicated 24 people had three or more DWIs.

A fiscal estimate of the bill, sponsored by state Rep. Daryl Abbas, R-Salem Republican, chair of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, indicated it could have an indeterminate impact on state and local budgets, as it is unclear how many changes might be filed under the new law. However, the estimate noted it costs the state $47,691 per year to incarcerate an individual.

“It’s one of the hardest things you have to do as governor, to hear the stories of what happened, of where the system failed and how it could be better,” the Concord Monitor quoted Sununu as saying. “We would not be signing this bill without” Beth Shaw.

Former state Sen. Dan Feltes, D-Concord, sponsored the legislation last year.

Image courtesy of Gov. Chris Sununu Facebook