When Can a DWI/DUI Become a Felony?
In most cases, a DWI/DUI conviction in New Mexico will result in some jail time and fines, but rarely is it charged as a felony. There are, however, exceptions to this, and your DUI could quickly turn from a misdemeanor offense into a felony. If you have been arrested for a DWI or DUI in the state, then it is important to understand your rights, and more important that you contact an attorney to protect those rights.
Three Ways in Which Your Misdemeanor Can Escalate into a Felony DWI/DUI
Drunken driving laws in New Mexico are strict. The courts do not want to see repeat offenders – especially among those who drive while intoxicated. If you have been arrested, there are three ways in which a misdemeanor can turn into a felony:
- Your DUI resulted in an injury or death. If you are arrested for a DUI accident, and that accident caused property damage, injuries, or death, then you will face felony charges. If someone dies because of your DWI, you could face vehicular manslaughter charges. Even if the accident does not result in a death, you could be charged with an aggravated DWI for bodily injury.
- Your driver’s license is revoked. In the state of New Mexico, it is not a felony to be convicted of a DWI on a suspended license – but it is in others. If your license is revoked for a DUI and you have multiple convictions, however, you could face a felony charge.
- You have prior DWI convictions. This is the most common reason why a DWI is escalated into a felony offense. After you have reached your fourth offense, you will face a felony in the 4th degree. If you have seven or more convictions, you will be upgraded to a felony in the 3rd degree charge.
What Felony Penalties Could I Face for Multiple DWI Convictions?
If you are convicted of a DWI and it is a felony charge, then you could face several years in prison, or even a lifetime loss of your driver’s license – but, it will depend on how many past DWI convictions you have. Some penalties that you could encounter include:
- 4th Offense – This becomes a felony in the 4th degree. You could face a lifetime license revocation, 18 months in prison (with six months mandatory), and up to $5,000 in fines and other penalties.
- 5th Offense – This is also a felony in the 4th degree, but here you will face a lifetime license revocation, up to two years in prison (with one year mandatory), and up to $5,000 in fines and other mandatory penalties.
- 6th Offense – This becomes a felony in the 3rd degree and includes penalties of lifetime license revocation; up to 30 months in prison (with 18 months mandatory); up to $5,000 in fines; and alcohol evaluation, treatment, and other mandatory penalties.
- 7th or Subsequent Offenses – You will still face a felony in the 3rd degree, but the penalties will include a lifetime revocation of your driver’s license, up to three years in prison (with two years mandatory), and up to a $5,000 fine and other mandatory penalties.
Avoid Harsh Felony Penalties – Speak with a DWI Attorney
If you have been arrested for a DWI, even if it is your first arrest, do not risk your freedom or a lifetime of dealing with a criminal record. Instead, contact the DWI team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today. Our attorneys have experience handling DWI and DUI arrests – including those that are facing felony charges. Schedule a free case evaluation now by contacting us online or calling us for a consultation at 505-375-4767.