What Happens if You Get a DUI in New Mexico?
Whether it is a first offense or a subsequent one, getting a DUI in New Mexico is a serious criminal offense. Most likely, you will have a driver’s license suspension for a minimum of 90 days, and depending on the severity, you could serve time in jail and pay not only fines, but court costs, too.
A DUI in New Mexico is just as harsh as any other state. More laws are enacted annually to stop the number of drunk driving incidents. Some lawmakers are now adopting laws that address all forms of impaired driving, including illegal substances and over-the-counter medications.
Luckily, the law does recognize that some people make an honest mistake when they get behind the wheel. While they realize that, don’t assume that means you can get away with even a first-time DWI without any punishment. No matter what, all offenders will experience some form of punishment – it is just the severity that varies.
What Is a DUI/DWI in New Mexico?
The state considers a person under the influence if they are driving with breath or blood alcohol levels of 0.08 percent or higher at the legal drinking age (21 years). If you are under 21 years, then 0.02 percent is the threshold.
Also, commercial drivers are held to a higher standard, which means anything at 0.04 percent or higher is a DWI.
Your BAC Is Only Half the Equation
Even if your BAC is under the legal limit, don’t think you can escape a DWI arrest or conviction. You can be arrested for a DUI and convicted, even if your BAC is under the legal limit – or no BAC was taken. If the officer can prove that they had reasonable cause to stop your vehicle, and that you were impaired enough for it to affect your safety on the roads, then that is all they need to arrest you.
Refusing to Take the Test Will Not Save You from a Conviction
Some drivers think that if they refuse to take a breathalyzer test, they will outsmart the system and not get charged. After all, if they cannot show you were over the legal limit, how can they charge you – let alone convict you.
Unfortunately, it does not work that way. By operating a motor vehicle in the state of New Mexico, you are agreeing to submit to a breathalyzer test if you are under suspicion for driving under the influence. If you refuse, you could lose your driver’s license automatically, and you can still be arrested and convicted of a DUI. Your refusal could be used against you, and the state might argue that if you were innocent, you would have gladly taken a test to prove it.
What Is the Punishment for a DUI?
If you are convicted of a DWI or DUI in New Mexico, the punishment will depend on the circumstances of your arrest and whether or not it is your first or subsequent offense.
The more offenses you have, the harsher the penalties. You should keep in mind that you are not limited to just jail time or court fees. You have civil penalties that you may face along with some long-term consequences once convicted of a DUI.
Penalties for a 1st Offense DWI
If it is your first offense, the courts may provide some leniency during your sentencing – but not much. Their goal is to deter you from becoming a repeat offender.
Some punishments you are likely to receive as a first offender include:
- Using an ignition interlock device (IID) for up to one year after your driver’s license is reinstated
- Spending as much as 90 days in county jail
- Paying up to $500 in fines
- Serving a one year probation sentence
- Serving 24 hours of community service
- Attending a DWI school and Victim Impact Panel
- Completing substance abuse screening and receiving any treatments required by the court
Penalties for a 2nd Offense DUI
You will notice that with each offense, the penalties gradually increase. While the first, second, and third DUIs are still misdemeanors, do not assume that the penalties will be minor.
For a second offense, you are facing:
- Using an IID for at least two years after your driver’s license is reinstated
- Spending up to 364 days in a county jail, with a minimum of 96 hours in jail
- Up to a $1,000 fine, with a minimum mandatory amount of $500
- Serving up to 5 years of probation
- Serving 48 hours of community service
- Completing a substance abuse course and taking any alcohol treatment required by the court
- Completing a 28 or 90-day treatment for alcohol abuse
Penalties for a 3rd Offense DUI
Once you are on your third offense, the courts increase the penalty significantly. They want to deter you from becoming a habitual offender, and by this point, they may label you as one. Just some of the punishments you could experience include:
- Using an IID for up to three years
- Serving up to 364 days in jail, but a 30 day minimum
- Serving up to 5 years on probation
- Paying a fine of a minimum of $750 and a maximum of $1,000
- Completing in-patient or out-patient alcohol treatment and courses
Penalties for a 4th Offense DUI
You are no longer facing a misdemeanor at this point, and now you are being charged with a fourth-degree felony. The courts will likely require:
- An IID for a minimum of three years – but you may not have a driver’s license for up to 5 years
- Up to 18 months in a state prison, with a mandatory minimum of 6 months in a county jail
- A fine that can go up to $5,000
- Serving up to 5 years on probation (in addition to jail time)
- Completing screening during probation and alcohol treatment programs
Why You Need a Criminal Defense Team
You can see how trying to defend yourself against accusations of a DUI are not something to mess around with. Not only will you spend time in jail, but you may lose your driver’s license, have a permanent criminal record, and your life will change forever.
Avoid the long-term consequences by seeking the best outcome possible in your case.
Contact the legal team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today. Schedule a free case evaluation by calling us or request more information online.