Can I Lose My Vehicle Because of DUI in New Mexico?
Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense in New Mexico, as it is around the country. While most people realize driving drunk can lead to enormous consequences, many do not understand just how severe the consequences can be. Depending on the circumstances, you could even lose your vehicle in addition to losing your license, getting slapped with a fine, or going to jail. DUIs are prosecuted harshly, and a conviction can damage more than just your reputation. Whether you had a lapse in judgment and drank one too many before driving home or you are facing a second or third DUI, contact the DUI defense attorneys at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today.
What Is a DUI in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, it is unlawful for anyone to operate a motor vehicle within the state while under the influence of alcohol or any drug to the degree that impairs their ability to drive. Specifically,
- It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more within three hours of driving the car, and
- It is unlawful for a person holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate a car with a BAC of 0.04% or over within three hours of driving the commercial motor vehicle.
Aggravated driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs consists of one of these additional factors:
- Operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.16% or greater,
- Causing bodily injury to another as a result of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, or
- Refusing to submit to chemical testing (i.e., breathalyzer or blood test).
Penalties for a DUI Offense in New Mexico
In New Mexico, the penalties for DUI are wide-ranging but never-the-less steep, even for a first offense. Below are the New Mexico DUI penalties at a glance.
First-Offense Misdemeanor DUI
The possible penalties for a first-time DUI include the following:
- Up to 90 days in jail;
- Up to a $500 fine;
- Six months to one-year loss of license;
- Installation of ignition interlock device (IID);
- Up to one-year probation; and
- Twenty-four hours of mandatory community service.
You will also be subject to DUI school and a substance abuse screening.
Second-Offense Misdemeanor DUI
A second-time DUI results in the following possible penalties:
- Up to a year in jail, with a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 96 consecutive hours;
- Up to $1,000 fine (required minimum of $500);
- Two-year loss of license;
- Up to 5 years of probation;
- IID (ignition interlock device) for two years; and
- Forty-eight hours of mandatory community service.
DUI school and substance abuse screening and counseling will also be required.
Third-Offense Misdemeanor DUI
The possible penalties for a third-time DUI include the following:
- Up to a year in jail, but a mandatory minimum of 30 consecutive days;
- Up to a $1,000 fine ($750 mandatory minimum);
- Three-year loss of license;
- Up to 5 years on probation;
- IID for three years;
- 96 hours of community service; and
- DUI school and substance abuse screening and counseling.
Following a conviction for a third offense, you may also be required to enroll in an in-patient or outpatient treatment program.
Fourth-Offense DUI Felony
In New Mexico, a fourth or subsequent DUI becomes a felony with increased penalties, including:
- Six months mandatory minimum jail time with a maximum of up to 18 months,
- Up to a $5,000 fine,
- Up to five years probation, and
- Lifetime loss of license with a five-year court review option.
You could also be subject to substance abuse screening and mandatory completion of recommended treatments.
Can I Lose My Car Because of a DUI?
Several cities and municipalities in New Mexico have forfeiture programs designed to seize vehicles used during the commission of a DUI. Initially, cities permitted law enforcement agencies to confiscate the cars of those who committed a DUI offense before conviction, even for a first offense. However, in 2018, a United States District Court judge ruled that an Albuquerque seizure program was unconstitutional. Its unconstitutional status was due to its requirement that vehicle owners prove their innocence after their car was already seized, and in some cases, before conviction.
Forfeiture and Seizure of Property
New Mexico’s criminal procedure code addresses forfeiture, the seizure of property, and when these acts are permissible.
Specifically, a person’s property is subject to forfeiture according to state law if:
- The person was arrested for an offense to which forfeiture applies;
- A criminal court convicts the person of the offense; and
- The State establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture, as provided in the following section.
Following the conviction for an offense to which forfeiture applies, the court may order the person to forfeit:
- Any property the person acquired through the commission of the offense;
- Any property directly traceable to property acquired through the commission of the crime; and
- Any instrumentality the person used in the commission of the crime (e.g., the vehicle driven while under the influence).
Further, subject to court approval, the forfeiture of property is generally permitted to be a part of the terms of a plea agreement.
Can I Lose My Vehicle Because of DUI in New Mexico?
You could lose your vehicle if you are convicted of a DUI offense in New Mexico. In most instances, a first-time offender is not at risk of losing their car. However, you may face vehicle seizure if you are convicted of a second or subsequent offense, especially in certain cities such as Albuquerque or Santa Fe that have seizure programs. Challenging a forfeiture can be time-consuming and difficult. If you are charged with DUI and law enforcement seizes your vehicle, or you’re afraid that they are going to, you need to contact a defense attorney immediately. And if you own the car but were not driving at the time of the DUI, you also have rights and defenses to forfeiture. Contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices for assistance.
New Mexico DUI Attorneys
A conviction for driving under the influence has far-reaching consequences beyond jail time and fines. You need a reputable and skilled defense attorney if you are worried about your freedom, reputation, and driving privileges. The attorneys at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices have over two decades of experience defending those accused of driving while intoxicated. Let us put our experience to work for you. Contact us today.