Could I Be Charged with a Felony DUI in New Mexico?
Across the country, there has been a significant increase in penalties for DUIs/DWIs. New Mexico is no different from this. In fact, New Mexico has implemented stricter enforcement of harsher penalties and consequences for those convicted of DWIs. One trend that defense attorneys have noted over the past decade is that prosecutors are looking for opportunities to create harsher penalties – and often, that means finding the chance to turn a misdemeanor DUI into a felony charge.
When Does a DWI Become a Felony?
There are a few reasons why a DUI or DWI could turn into a felony in the state of New Mexico. The most common reason is multiple offenses. In New Mexico, your fourth DWI or more will be charged as a felony. In addition, if you have DWI-related charges or a DWI that results in an injury or death, it will be escalated to a felony. Lastly, there is another form of DWI that catches defendants by surprise and is a very common reason for a felony DWI to be sought by the courts. If you are driving while under the influence with a child in the car, or if the prosecutors feel that you endangered a child due to your DWI, your charge will be elevated to a felony.
The Seriousness of a Felony DWI
Felony charges of any kind are extremely serious. If you are being charged with a felony DWI, it is important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. There may be opportunities for your attorney to defend those charges or have them reduced back down to a misdemeanor. It is important to also realize that a felony conviction will stay with you the rest of your life – therefore, you cannot risk going at your defense without a DWI defense attorney.
Repeat DWI Convictions that Result in a Felony Charge
If you have multiple DWI convictions on your record, it is likely you will be charged with a felony DWI. That is because the state has little tolerance for repeat offenders, and it will punish those who have obviously not learned their lesson from misdemeanor punishments. If you have had four or more DWI convictions, you will be charged with a felony. The penalties include jail time, suspended licenses, and even hefty fines.
DWI Resulting in Injuries
Even if you have never been charged with a DWI in the past, you could have a felony DWI if you caused an accident that resulted in injuries or property damage. There are provisions for dealing with these types of cases. If you cause great bodily harm or death because of a DWI, you will face a third degree felony, which includes enhanced sentencing of four years if you have previous convictions.
DWI with Children Present
The courts do not take endangerment of a child lightly. If you are charged with a DWI in the presence of a child, you will face enhanced penalties and little to no sympathy from the courts. Children should never be put at risk for a DWI injury; therefore, the court will seek maximum punishment for those who put a child in harm’s way. New Mexico uses the “impaired to the slightest degree” rule, which means that you could be charged with a DWI even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is less than 0.08 percent.
Speak with a DWI Attorney in New Mexico Right Away
If you have been arrested for a DWI, whether they are charging you with a felony or not, you need an attorney present to help you with your case. A DWI conviction carries serious consequences that will haunt you for the rest of your life. Schedule a consultation now with the DWI team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices by calling 505-375-4661. You can also schedule your consultation by filling out our online contact form.