DUI in New Mexico

Six times per year, the state of New Mexico conducts Operation DWI, wherein the state's law enforcement targets drunk drivers.  There are typically 75 to 100 sobriety checkpoints established for a two-week period.  An intense public media campaign precedes each event, and once the campaigns have ended, the results are disseminated to the public.  It is important to be aware, however, that a driver can be pulled over for suspected drunk driving at any time.

In the state of New Mexico, a driver can be arrested for the following drunk driving offenses:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater
  • If under 21, driving with a BAC of .02 or greater
  • Aggravated DWI under the following circumstances:  Driving with a BAC of .16 or greater, causing an accident involving bodily injury, or refusing to take a chemical test

DUI Arrest Causes Two Separate Cases

In New Mexico, a DUI/DWI arrest sets off two different cases, a criminal court case and a Motor Vehicles Division case.  If a driver is convicted during the criminal court case, he or she can face severe penalties.  A driver can be convicted based on two sets of laws.  The first set of laws looks at driving behavior at the time of arrest.  Erratic driving behavior and/or failure of field sobriety tests are valid indicators of guilt and can be used to convict a driver.  

Under "per se" laws, latin for "by itself", a person can be convicted based solely on their blood alcohol content (BAC) levels determined through chemical testing.  The limit that has been set for New Mexico is .08 per cent blood alcohol by volume.  No other evidence of driving impairment is needed under this law in order to convict a driver of DUI.

New Mexico DWI Penalties and Driving Repercussions

The following table provides a snapshot of some of the fines and penalties you may have to deal with for a DUI conviction in New Mexico.

Court Fines Potential Jail Time License Suspension
1st Conviction $500 Up to 90 days Must install IID*
2nd Conviction $500 Minimum 8 days
Must install IID*
3rd Conviction $750 Minimum 30 days
Must install IID*

*ignition interlock device

First-time offenders will be subject to a possible 90 days of jail time and a $500 fine.  In addition, the court will require the driver to install an ignition interlock device (IID).  An IID contains a built in breathalyzer and forces a driver to pass a breath test with a BAC of no more than 0.025 per cent before the car will start.  You may also be ordered by the court to attend the New Mexico DWI School first offender program as well as undergo counseling and alcohol screening.  Additionally, community service may be required along with $150 in probation fees.  If the conviction is a result of an “aggravated” offense a minimum of 48 hours in jail will be required.  The second and third offenses carry similar penalties with increasing fines and jail time.

A fourth DUI/DWI offense within a 10-year period is considered a felony and can carry penalties of up to 18 months in prison, $5,000 in fines, and lifetime license revocation with the provision of court review every 5 years.  In addition, you could lose your civil rights e.g., bearing arms, voting, and other rights. 

As a result of new DUI/DWI legislation passed in 2005, New Mexico now has some of the harshest consequences in the US for DWI convictions.  However, you still have the right to a fair trial if charged with DUI/DWI in New Mexico.  If you are facing a possible DWI conviction, it is best to talk to a knowledgeable DUI lawyer who can help.

Administrative Hearing

In the event you are arrested for DWI and the officer decides to confiscate your license, you have 10 days from the date of arrest to request a hearing with the Motor Vehicle Division if you want to contest the revocation of your license.  Failure to request this hearing in the prescribed amount of time will result in automatic suspension of your New Mexico driver’s license.  Depending on the severity of the charges against you,  you may be given a limited license in order to drive to and from work or school, or your license may be suspended for a period of time.

Chemical Testing and Implied Consent Laws

Under New Mexico state law, any licensed person operating a motor vehicle automatically gives his or her consent to an approved test (blood or breath) for the purpose of showing intoxication.  Test refusal can result in license suspension up to one year, 90 days suspension if under the age of 21.

Blood tests must be performed by a doctor, nurse, or other qualified medical personnel.  In addition, a driver accused of a DUI offense has the right to request a second, independent, chemical test at the state's expense.

 

 

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