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  • Can a New Mexico DUI Conviction Affect Your Ability to Buy a House?

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    Lawyer reviewing case with his client.If you have been arrested for a New Mexico DUI, you probably have many questions. Will you have to go to jail? How much are the fines and court costs? Will you have to report to a probation officer? Will my prior convictions increase the penalties I am facing? Is a conviction going to hurt my credit? While every case is different, state law provides for the possibility of imprisonment, fines, and probation for a DUI conviction. However, a New Mexico DUI conviction can also bring about some very serious collateral consequences. When taking all the consequences of a DUI conviction into account, it is certainly worth considering your options.

    Collateral consequences of a criminal conviction are the negative effects that persist after someone, who was convicted of a crime, serves the sentence ordered by the judge. Collateral consequences range in seriousness and depend in large part on the individual. However, one of the more common questions we get from clients facing DUI charges is whether a conviction for driving under the influence can interfere with their ability to buy a home.

    The first thing to note is that the bank will not know about a DUI conviction, because it will not run a criminal background check when you apply for a mortgage. However, a bank will perform an extensive check into your financial, credit, and employment history, and a DUI conviction can impact each of these. So, while a New Mexico DUI conviction will not pose an absolute legal impediment to obtaining a mortgage and buying a home, it can still negatively affect your ability to do so.

    How the Penalties for a New Mexico DUI Can Interfere with Buying a Home

    Police, prosecutors, judges, and lawmakers in New Mexico all take driving under the influence very seriously. As is the case in most states, the penalties for a DUI increase with each previous conviction. For example, someone convicted of a first-time DUI offense will face a maximum of 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, and they will need to complete a minimum of 24 hours of community service. Additionally, their license will be suspended for up to one year, and they will need to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle before getting their license reinstated. Each of these statutorily imposed penalties can seriously affect someone’s ability to hold a job, pay their bills, and buy a home.

    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 subsequent conviction, the punishments get more serious.

    Notably, these penalties will not, in and of themselves, affect your credit. However, dealing with the consequences of a DUI conviction can interfere with your ability to get a job, work regular hours, and stay on top of your bills. Of course, if you are incarcerated, your employer may not hold your job. In fact, most employers will need to replace you if you will be incarcerated for even a short period. This may mean needing to find a new job once you are released. Even if your employer does hold your job, you will not earn any money while you are in jail. Making matters worse, once you are released, you may have trouble making it to interviews or getting to your place of work without being able to drive. And finally, most community service must be completed during work hours, which can also interfere with your workday.

    Given this reality, while nothing about a DUI conviction will prevent you from qualifying for a mortgage, it may make it more difficult. When you apply for a mortgage, the bank will look into your employment and income history. If you have a large gap where you were unemployed and not bringing in a paycheck, it will not bode well for your application.

    Similarly, the bank will look at your credit history. Many people who experience a DUI conviction end up falling behind on their bills. If you were incarcerated, even for a short time, the bills won’t stop coming in and it’s easy to fall behind. If bills get sent to collections, or you end up with a high debt-to-income ratio, this will harm your credit. Again, this will make it harder to qualify for a mortgage.

    While there is nothing about the statutory punishments for a DUI conviction that makes it impossible to buy a home, the reality is that it will make the process much harder for many people who are convicted of driving under the influence. However, being arrested for a DUI does not mean that you will be convicted. In fact, there is a long way between arrest and conviction. By speaking with a dedicated defense attorney, you can better understand the case against you, as well as what options you have to either fight the case or, potentially, accept responsibility for less serious charges.

    Contact a Dedicated Defense Law Firm

    If you are considering buying a home in the near future and have also recently been arrested for a New Mexico DUI case, contact the dedicated defense attorneys at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. Even if this is the first time you were arrested, a conviction can carry lifelong consequences, including affecting your ability to purchase a home. At the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, our skilled attorneys can help you understand your options and they will listen to what is important to you before we advise you on how to proceed. To learn more about how we can help you defend against the charges you are facing, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our defense attorneys, give us a call or contact us through our online form.