Can I Get a DUI for Driving a Scooter While Drunk in New Mexico?
Electric, or e-scooters, can be a fun way to get around a city like Albuquerque. On-street rentals make it easy to grab one and go. However, scooter users might not realize they could pick up a drunk driving charge for riding an e-scooter after having “one too many.”
E-scooters can fall under the New Mexico DUI laws, which means you could face the same stiff sentence as a person drunk driving while operating a car, truck, or SUV. So if you pick up such a charge, consulting a skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced New Mexico DUI lawyer from the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices is your best course of action. We have decades of experience aggressively defending people facing criminal charges across New Mexico. Contact our office today to learn more about your rights if you face a DUI.
How Can I Get a DUI for Drunk Driving On an E-Scooter in New Mexico?
It’s easy to understand why drinking too much and driving a car is dangerous. Driving a car after drinking too much can cause you to lose control of a 3,000-pound vehicle, with deadly consequences. A two-wheeled scooter with an electric motor that might top out at 15 mph is obviously not nearly as dangerous. However, carelessly riding e-scooters does pose dangers to the rider and pedestrians. It’s understandable to wonder, Can I get a DUI for driving a scooter while drunk in New Mexico? While it might seem unlikely, the fact is that the law in New Mexico treats e-scooters as if they were cars when it comes to driving under the influence of intoxicating substances.
What Does New Mexico Law Say About Riding a Scooter After Drinking?
New Mexico’s DUI law does not specifically prohibit scootering under the influence. The law broadly prohibits a person from driving any motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. The state’s DUI law does not define motor vehicles. You might think you cannot face DUI charges if the New Mexico DUI law doesn’t specifically allow a DUI charge for scooters.
Unfortunately, you can’t have your DUI case dismissed because the statute fails to refer to e-scooters specifically. Judges will look at other laws for help defining words and phrases.
According to New Mexico Statutes Annotated § 66-1-4.11, a “motor vehicle means every vehicle that is self-propelled and every vehicle that is propelled by electric power obtained from batteries or from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails.”
An e-scooter falls squarely within this definition of a motor vehicle. Even though common sense might suggest that an e-scooter is more like a bicycle than a car, that is not what the law says. Under New Mexico statutes, a bike is any device with two wheels propelled by foot power. Consequently, a scooter you push is a bicycle under New Mexico’s motor vehicle statutes.
But what about the fact that you don’t need a driver’s license to drive a scooter? Well, whether or not you need a license depends on the capacity of your scooter. But even if you have the type that requires no license—this will not save you from getting a DUI. Similarly, you might not need a driver’s license to drive a tractor. Yet, New Mexico’s appellate courts previously ruled that a tractor fits under the broad definition of a motor vehicle as well.
What Penalties Do You Face for a DUI Conviction?
Even for a first DUI offense, you face the possibility of a jail sentence, probation, stiff fines, and license suspension. After a conviction, you could go to jail for up to 90 days and pay up to $500 in fines. However, the judge can put you on probation instead of sending you to jail. The probationary period can last for no longer than one year. But there are multiple conditions you must fulfill while on probation. You will have to complete 24 hours of community service. You might need to install an ignition interlocking system on your vehicle even though you are riding an e-scooter. Also, you will need alcohol screening and might have to attend alcohol counseling or an inpatient program if the probation department determines you need treatment for alcohol dependence. And don’t forget that this is all at your expense.
Your potential license suspension is an incredibly harsh punishment. A DUI conviction automatically suspends your driver’s license for six months. New Mexico’s implied consent law applies to e-scooter riders as well. As a result, refusing a chemical test leads to an administrative license suspension for one year.
The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division will reinstate your license only if you have completed your term of suspension, paid your reinstatement fee, and complied with the ignition interlock requirements.
Keep in mind that you will face stiffer penalties if you pick up subsequent DUI charges. A previous DUI conviction exposes you to increased jail time, more expensive fines, and longer license suspensions. Therefore, it’s important to fight DUI charges to the best of your ability.
E-Scooter DUI Defenses
The best defense for your case depends on the facts. Each case is unique. Therefore, predicting what will happen in your case based on the outcome of another is risky and ill-advised. Our lawyers know from their vast legal experience that you need more than a cookie-cutter approach. Incorporating several defense strategies might work best for you, while another person might have only one viable line of defense.
We closely examine the details of your case to find weaknesses in the State’s evidence. In doing so, we might find that the police violated your rights by stopping you with no legal basis. We could also learn that the police improperly administered field sobriety tests or the person who performed your chemical test was not qualified to do so. Finally, we might find witnesses who saw you before the police stopped you. These witnesses might be able to refute the officer’s testimony by testifying that you did not appear intoxicated or weren’t drinking at all.
Protect Your Rights with Proven Advocates
Since 1997, the DUI lawyers from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices have repeatedly proven that we have the knowledge, skill, and experience to protect your rights. Contact us today for a free initial consultation. We will provide the personalized attention you deserve to put you in the best position to achieve the best possible outcome.