Driving to New Hampshire: Tips, Tricks, and Laws

Drive New Hampshire with ease by familiarizing yourself with the state’s laws, best routes, and traffic insights.
Written by Sophie Boka
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
New Hampshire is known for its wild expanses and quaint New England towns. Its roads are frequented by all drivers, from daily commuters to seasonal road-trippers.
The Granite State is not very congested, which makes it an easier place to drive. But it has some strict rules and regulations you should know before hitting the road.
This guide goes over everything you need to know about New Hampshire driving, from the state’s driving laws to the road conditions—so get ready to pack up your
road trip essentials
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The best routes for driving to New Hampshire

New Hampshire has something for everyone. If you’re on the East Coast, consider one of these popular routes:
  • B
    urlington, VT
    Concord, NH
    (2.5 hours): Burlington dwellers will appreciate the cultural hub of Concord, NH. New Hampshire’s capital, Concord fosters an active creative community, producing everything from art galleries to an innovative local, farm-to-table food scene.
  • Portland, ME
    Portsmouth, NH
    (1 hour): Hop over the state border and time warp into historic Porstmouth. While there, check out the Strawberry Banke Museum’s lively reenactments to learn about the early settlement period of this port city.
  • Providence, RI
    —Hanover, NH (3 hours): Round out your college tour by driving a few hours north to Hanover, NH to explore Dartmouth’s colonial-inspired campus.
  • New York City
    —North Conway, NH (7 hours): North Conway was voted the #1 best ski town in America. Why not take a road trip and leave the city grind behind for the slopes?

How good are New Hampshire’s roads?

The verdict depends on how we’re defining ‘good.’ To help with this definition, we’ll turn to The Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report findings.
Overall, New Hampshire roads rank relatively well when it comes to cost-effectiveness and condition, ranking 19th nationally
New Hampshire was named the fifth-safest state when it comes to the overall road fatalities and gets the top spot for its rural interstate pavement condition.

Does New Hampshire have toll roads?

Most states have toll roads—and New Hampshire is no exception. When driving in New Hampshire, you’ll find three road tolls:
  • Blue Star Turnpike in Hampton, Portsmouth, and Seabrook
  • Everett Turnpike in Nashua, Manchester, Concord, and Hooksett
  • Spaulding Turnpike in Portsmouth, Dover, Rochester, and Milton
If you plan to drive in the area for a while, you can make your life a bit easier by
signing up for EZ-Pass
. EZ-Pass also made a helpful
tool to calculate your toll costs
.
But don’t worry, the tolls won’t run you dry—at the most, they’ll cost you about $2.

How bad is New Hampshire traffic?

New Hampshire traffic is middle of the road, ranking 24th nationally. Every year, commuters lose about 8.1 hours to traffic. That may sound bad, but
New Jersey
drivers lose around 86 hours to congestion every year!
You’ll find more traffic when driving through denser areas. Expect to tack on a few extra minutes to your trip time when driving in and around bigger cities—especially during rush hour. 
Key Takeaway Driving in New Hampshire isn’t too bad. You may face traffic every once in a while, but compared to driving in some states, your journey is smooth sailing.
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What are New Hampshire’s speeding laws?

New Hampshire law outlines something called presumed or “per se” speeding limits. That means if you’re caught speeding, you may not be charged. You are allowed to make your case for speeding in court—and if you win, the charge will be dropped. 
Unless otherwise indicated, these are the presumed speed limits in New Hampshire:
  • 10 mph: school zones (for the 45 minutes before school opens and closes)
  • 30 mph: business or urban residential districts
  • 35 mph: rural residential districts
  • 55 mph: other locations (except interstates)
  • 65 mph: most interstates

Fines for speeding in New Hampshire

If you violate New Hampshire’s basic speeding laws, you’ll be fined. On your first offense, you’ll be fined $64. On your second, that increases to $124.
If you’re caught violating the presumed speed limit, you can make your case in court. But if you don’t—or if you lose the case—you will be fined at a graduated rate.
If the presumed limit is 55 mph, the fine for exceeding the speed limit by:
  • 1-10 mph is $62
  • 11-15 mph is $93
  • 16-20 mph is $124
  • 21-25 mph is $248
  • 26+ mph is $434
If the presumed limit is 65 mph, the fine for exceeding the speed limit by:
  • 1-5 mph is $80.60
  • 6-10 mph is $124
  • 11-15 mph is $186
  • 16-20 mph is $310
  • 21+ mph is $434
If the presumed limit is 70 mph, the fine for exceeding the speed limit by:
  • 1-5 mph is $80.60
  • 6-10 mph is $124
  • 11-15 mph is $248
  • 16-20 mph is $372
  • 21+ mph is $496
Note that you’ll also get three
points added to your record
. Add too many points and your
New Hampshire driver's license could be suspended

What are New Hampshire’s alcohol laws?

New Hampshire has
strict alcohol laws
. In addition to being heavily fined, you can lose your license and be sent to jail. When driving, your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level cannot be at or over 0.08% (for adults), 0.04% (for commercial drivers), or 0.02% (for drivers under 21). 
The consequence of driving under the influence depends on the frequency of the offense.
First offense:
  • Pay a fine of at least $500
  • Complete an impaired driver intervention program
  • Potential treatment and/or counseling, as decided by a judge
  • Possible random urinalysis or testing
Second offense (within 10 years of first offense):
  • Must pay a fine of at least $750
  • Face up to one year in prison
  • Complete a seven-day program at a state-operated multiple DWI offender intervention detention center
  • Lose your license for at least 3 years
  • Potential treatment and/or counseling, as decided by a judge
  • Possible random urinalysis or testing
Third offense (within 10 years of other offenses):
  • Must pay a fine of at least $750
  • Face up to 180 days in a county correctional facility
  • Complete a 28-day residential treatment program or an intensive course for substance abuse treatment
  • Lose your license indefinitely; can petition the court for a new license after five years
  • Potential treatment and/or counseling, as decided by a judge
  • Possible random urinalysis or testing
Fourth offense (within 10 years of other offenses):
  • Must pay a fine of at least $750
  • Face up to 180 days in a county correctional facility
  • Complete a 28-day residential treatment program or an intensive course for substance abuse treatment
  • Lose your license indefinitely, can petition the court for a new license after seven years
  • Potential treatment and/or counseling, as decided by a judge
  • Possible random urinalysis or testing
And what about carting around alcohol? According to
New Hampshire's open container laws
, it’s illegal to drive with an open container of alcohol. If you do need to travel with alcohol, play it safe. Keep it closed and in the trunk.
Key Takeaway New Hampshire takes its alcohol laws seriously. Be smart and stick to them.

Can you use headphones while driving in New Hampshire?

It is legal to drive with headphones in New Hampshire. Still, be careful. Headphones may keep your hands free but they can block out noise. If you get into an accident, you don’t want to be charged with
reckless driving in New Hampshire
.

What are some of New Hampshire’s best road trips?

One of the best New Hampshire road trips is town hopping. Plug a few small towns into your map app and make a day of it. Interact with the communities and check out the local shops and architecture. There’s a lot to learn!
Speaking of architecture, did you know that there are
castles in New Hampshire
? If you’re looking for a more regal road trip idea, add a few to your itinerary!

How to find affordable car insurance in New Hampshire

When driving in New Hampshire, make sure you and your loved ones are protected with quality car insurance. When you switch with
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Simply download our
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What does all of this amount to? In addition to a bunch of time saved, drivers who switch with Jerry save an average of over $800 on their
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You will find worse driving conditions where the roads become more congested, specifically around bigger cities and tourist destinations.
Dependent on traffic, it should take you about four hours to drive across New Hampshire.
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