DWI vs. DUI in New Mexico: What Are Their Differences?
New Mexico imposes serious penalties against anyone convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. According to a report by the New Mexico Department transportation, the state recorded 10,376 DWI arrests at the county level in 2019, a slight decrease from 10,468 arrests in 2018. As of October 2020, approximately 887 of the New Mexico DUI arrests resulted in a dismissal.
Many states refer to a drunk driving charge as driving under the influence (DUI). New Mexico, on the other hand, refers to its drunk driving charge as driving while intoxicated (DWI). Thus, the difference between DWI vs. DUI is simply a difference in terminology—or which abbreviation a state chooses to use. Legally, there is no difference between the two.
But we know that if you are facing DWI charges in New Mexico, you are not worried about names—you are concerned about your future. We want you to know that our team is here and eager to help you come out of this predicament with the least amount of stress or consequences possible. In other words, we are here to help you get the best outcome possible for your case. Contact New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today so we can discuss the facts surrounding your arrest.
Penalties for a New Mexico DUI
The criminal penalties associated with a New Mexico DWI will depend primarily on your prior drunk driving convictions. For a first-time conviction, the court can sentence you to up to 90 days in jail, and they can add a fine of up to $500. A second DWI conviction carries the possibility of up to 364 days in jail, with a mandatory minimum jail sentence of four days. Additionally, the court can impose a fine between $500 and $1,000. A third DWI conviction carries the possibility of up to 364 days in jail, with a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 30 days. Additionally, the court can impose a fine between $750 and $1,000.
In some cases, law enforcement might charge you with an aggravated DWI. Situations that might trigger an aggravated DWI charge include:
- Blood alcohol level over .16%;
- Causing bodily injury to another person while driving under the influence; or
- Refusing to submit to a chemical test in compliance with New Mexico’s implied consent law.
Aggravated DUI convictions result in increased mandatory jail time in addition to the requirement of installing an ignition interlock device.
Beyond criminal penalties, other consequences negatively impact individuals who get convicted of one or more DUIs. A New Mexico DWI conviction will appear on your permanent record. That means that when someone runs a background check, they will see the conviction. The conviction could negatively impact your chances of securing employment or receiving approval on a rental application.
Potential Defenses to DUI in New Mexico
A number of legal defenses can apply in a DUI case that might result in the reduction or dismissal of your charges. However, a valid legal defense does not apply to every scenario. Some common legal defenses used in DUI cases include:
- You were not the person driving the vehicle;
- The breathalyzer used to collect your breath sample was inaccurate;
- Law enforcement stopped you in violation of your rights; or
- Law enforcement failed to follow proper procedures when collecting your breath or blood sample.
The facts of each case determine whether a legal defense applies. Contact one of our DWI case attorneys at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices to discuss whether a legal defense is applicable to the facts of your case.
What Happens to My Driver’s License After a DWI in New Mexico?
If you are arrested for DWI, you have 10 days to appeal the revocation of your driver’s license. You can appeal by filing a “Request for Hearing” form with the Motor Vehicles Division (MVD). Otherwise, the state will suspend your driver’s license automatically.
If you provided a breath or blood sample on the night of your arrest that showed your BAC to be at above 0.08%, you would likely lose your driver’s license at the hearing. For a first-time DUI conviction, you will lose your license for one year. For subsequent convictions, the MVD will add one year to the suspension period. If you refuse to provide a chemical test, you will lose your license for one year. If you are acquitted, or your charges are dismissed, the MVD revocation standard is six months.
While your driver’s license is revoked, you can apply for an ignition interlock license. An ignition interlock license costs $113.00. In addition to this cost, you are responsible for the maintenance and fees associated with the ignition interlock device itself.
To secure the license, you must present a copy of your current contract with an ignition interlock provider and proof of insurance showing that you are a covered driver. Additionally, you must provide a notarized Ignition Interlock Affidavit.
Contact Our Office Today
No one is prepared for a DUI charge. A conviction can lead to spending time in jail, losing your driver’s license, and significant fines. When you find yourself charged with DWI in New Mexico, you should contact an attorney right away.
Our DWI case lawyers at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices have represented clients charged with DWI in New Mexico for more than two and a half decades. We know that a “one-size-fits-all” defense strategy will not apply to every case. Instead, we take the time to meet one-on-one with our clients and listen to all of your concerns. This helps us formulate a defense strategy that is tailored to you. If you want a lawyer who gives you individualized attention to obtain the best possible result, contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today.