How Do People Live After a DUI?
One moment, you are driving down the road, and everything seems fine. And the next, you’re living a nightmare. You may be thinking: I’m not a criminal. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I didn’t even have that much to drink. These thoughts are common, and while a New Mexico DUI is very serious, there is such a thing as life after a DUI.
Other than getting into a serious car accident, one of every motorist’s worst fears is seeing the red and blue lights of a police cruiser flip on behind them. While no one enjoys the thought of getting pulled over, for those who have a few drinks in their system or are under the influence of drugs, a traffic stop can be life-changing. A New Mexico DUI conviction can result in the suspension of your driving privileges, fines, probation, and even jail time. However, a DUI conviction does not need to ruin your life, and it probably won’t.
The first thing to realize is that you are not alone. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, more than 1.4 million drivers are arrested for DUI and related offenses each year. This equals about one in 135 licensed drivers getting arrested for a DUI each year. While this may not ease all your fears, knowing that others have been through what you’re facing may help you realize that others have lived through a DUI conviction.
Much of your concern is likely based on uncertainty surrounding the process and the potential penalties you may be facing. Thus, the first step toward overcoming your fears about life after a DUI is understanding what impact a DUI conviction may have on your life. It may not be as bad as you think.
DUI Punishments in New Mexico
If this is your first DUI arrest, you can face penalties of up to a maximum of 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. You will also need to complete at least 24 hours of community service. Additionally, your license will be suspended for up to one year, and you will need to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle before getting your license reinstated. An ignition interlock device is a computer you place near the steering wheel that requires you to blow into a tube before starting your car. If your breath indicates the presence of alcohol, the vehicle will not start and your probation officer (or law enforcement) will be notified.
For a second offense, the punishments for a New Mexico DUI escalate to a maximum of 364 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, 48 hours of community service, up to five years’ probation, and revocation of driving privileges for two years. With each additional conviction, the punishments you face will get more severe.
You’ll notice that the punishments for a New Mexico DUI provide a range. Generally, the less that is on your criminal record, the better you will fare. Of course, situations involving aggravating circumstances, such as a DUI accident, an especially high blood-alcohol content, fleeing from the police, or a child in the car, can result in higher penalties.
Consequences of a New Mexico DUI Conviction
While you are understandably most likely preoccupied with the criminal aspects of a DUI conviction, it is also important to understand the other impacts that the conviction could have on your life. These are referred to as collateral consequences of a conviction.
A few of the most common collateral consequences of a New Mexico DUI conviction include the following.
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI offense, your primary concern may be how you will get to work, school, or the grocery store. While the law calls for the revocation of your license, it may not be as bad as you think.
After you are convicted of a New Mexico DUI, the government will revoke your driver license. Your license will remain revoked until you reinstate it. However, in most cases, you can obtain an ignition interlock driver license, which will allow you to drive wherever you want, as long as you do not have drugs or alcohol in your system. Thus, once you get your ignition interlock license and install the device on your vehicle, you can resume driving.
You may also be concerned about the possibility of an employer, potential employer, or landlord finding out about your conviction. Your criminal history is public record, and those who want to find out whether you’ve been convicted of a DUI can look up your record. This can make finding a job or housing more difficult. Some colleges will also look at a student’s criminal history when making admission or financial-aid decisions. Unfortunately, there is no way around this because, under New Mexico’s recently passed expungement law, DUIs are ineligible for expungement.
However, taking proactive steps to inform a potential employer or landlord about a prior DUI can go a long way. Most people would rather you tell them about your record than find out about a DUI conviction after the fact. Of course, this is an individual decision.
Car Insurance Rates
Car insurance companies rely on your driving history when determining your premium rates. Thus, if you’ve been convicted of a New Mexico DUI offense, your rates will almost certainly increase. In some cases, your car insurance company may cancel your policy; however, this generally happens only at the time of renewal.
Life after a DUI can be hard to imagine; however, your life will go on, and you will adjust to the circumstances. Of course, the best way to avoid the consequences of a DUI conviction is to work with an experienced New Mexico criminal defense legal practitioner to prevent a conviction in the first place.
Reach Out to a Dedicated New Mexico DUI Defense Legal Practitioner for Immediate Assistance
If you face DUI charges, contact the dedicated New Mexico DUI defense legal practitioners at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. Police, prosecutors, and judges take drunk driving crimes very seriously, and so should you. Even if this is your first offense, a conviction can carry lifelong consequences. At the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, our attorneys will help create a compelling defense to the charges in hopes of beating the case, or at least minimizing the impact it will have on your life. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Albuquerque criminal defense attorney, you can reach us by phone or through our online form.