Understanding Felony Aggravated DUI
DUI charges are often misdemeanors. However, New Mexico’s DUI laws can be strict. Depending on your situation, you could face several years in prison, license loss, and other legal complications that can negatively affect your life.
You will need a tough, dependable, and experienced DUI lawyer to fight for you if you have a felony aggravated DUI in New Mexico. Our lawyers have extensive experience defending felony DUI charges at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. Contact us immediately so we can assess your case and provide you with a legal defense designed to eliminate or reduce the harsh penalties in New Mexico’s DUI laws.
New Mexico’s DUI Law
You need to understand what a DUI charge is before you can appreciate the implications of an aggravated DUI charge. According to New Mexico’s DUI law, you could face a DUI charge if you drove a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Additionally, registering a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater within three hours of driving is also a DUI under New Mexico’s per se law.
The penalties for a first-offense DUI call for no more than 90 days in jail, 24 hours of community service, probation for 90 days up to one year, DWI school, and a $300 fine. Additionally, you might have to attend substance abuse counseling while you are on probation. The court can defer the sentence for a first-time DUI; however, a deferred sentence for a first offense counts as a “prior conviction” for subsequent offenses.
Second and third DUI offenses are misdemeanors. They require mandatory jail time and increased fines. Moreover, a judge cannot defer sentencing after a person receives a conviction for a second or subsequent offense.
What Is an Aggravated DUI?
Now that we’ve explained the basic DUI framework in New Mexico, we can discuss aggravated DUIs.
Aggravated DUI charges are more serious offenses than regular DUIs. If you are convicted, the aggravating factors will “enhance” or increase the possible sentence you could serve. Aggravating factors for DUI charges include the following:
- Having a BAC of 0.16% or greater within three hours of operating a vehicle,
- Causing bodily injury in a crash that occurred because you drove while under the influence,
- Refusing to submit to a chemical test under New Mexico’s Implied Consent Act when there was evidence of intoxication presented, and
- Committing a DUI while having prior convictions (even from other states) on your record.
Any one of these aggravating circumstances increases the minimum sentence. A conviction for a first-offense DUI with aggravating circumstances requires you to serve at least 48 consecutive hours in jail. You have to spend 96 straight hours in jail for a second-offense DUI conviction with aggravating factors. Finally, a conviction for a third-offense DUI with aggravating factors means you must serve at least 60 days in jail.
Driving under the influence with a child under 13 in the car is a misdemeanor offense as long as the child did not sustain any injuries. Driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle is a separate offense from DUI. Therefore, you could receive consecutive sentences if convicted of both DUI and DUI with a minor in the car.
Is Aggravated DUI a Felony?
Aggravated DUI can result in a felony charge. If convicted, the judge must impose a mandatory prison sentence. The court cannot take any felony DUI offense under advisement, and they cannot defer or suspend the sentence. A conviction for a fourth or subsequent DUI in New Mexico is a fourth-degree felony. The maximum sentence is 18 months in prison, with 6 months of mandatory prison time.
A fifth DUI conviction is a fourth-degree felony with a mandatory minimum of 1 year in prison and a maximum of 2 years in prison.
Sixth and seventh DUI convictions are third-degree felonies. For a sixth DUI conviction, you must receive a 30-month sentence and serve at least 18 months of it. You must receive a mandatory minimum of 2 years in prison—up to a maximum of 3 years in prison—for a seventh DUI conviction.
An eighth or subsequent DUI conviction is a second-degree felony in New Mexico. The judge must sentence you to 12 years in prison, 10 years of which is mandatory.
Felony DUI Involving Death or Great Bodily Harm
According to New Mexico Statutes Annotated § 66-8-101, killing another person while driving under the influence of liquor or drugs is a second-degree felony. The basic sentence for a second-degree felony conviction when someone dies is 15 years in state prison. Meanwhile, causing great bodily injury to another while driving under the influence of liquor or drugs is a third-degree felony. The basic sentence for a third-degree felony conviction is 3 years. However, if you caused great bodily injury to another, the court will add four years for each prior DUI conviction within 10 years onto your basic sentence.
Defending Felony DUI
The appropriate defenses largely depend on the circumstances of your arrest. You need to remember that the law presumes that you are innocent. You lose the presumption of innocence only when the state proves each element of the allegations against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
As your DUI defense lawyers, we will investigate every aspect of your case to determine your strongest defense. We might be able to attack the actions of the police if they violated your rights. We could also explore their use of field sobriety tests and the accuracy of any chemical tests they administered. Also, we can look into your past convictions to see if they qualify under the law. If not, we could argue they should not count against you.
These are just a few of the defense strategies we can explore while we fight to reduce your exposure to the negative consequences of a DUI charge.
Lawyers for Felony Aggravated DUI Defense
If you face the serious consequences of an aggravated DUI charge, contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices at 505-200-2982. We are available for a free case review. We have been 100% committed to defending the rights of those accused of crimes since 1997, so don’t hesitate. Reach out to us today to see how we can help.