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  • Chili Peppers and Breathalyzers: The Reality of New Mexico DUI

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    New Mexico recorded 40.8 million trips from out-of-state visitors in 2022. Inevitably, New Mexico residents and visitors find themselves charged with driving under the influence (DUI). You should not try to navigate the criminal justice system without the advice of a seasoned criminal defense attorney.

    A lawyer can advise you of current laws and penalties associated with your charges.

    If you or a loved one are facing a DUI charge in New Mexico, contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today to schedule an appointment with our team. 

    Overview of New Mexico DUI Laws

    New Mexico Statutes Annotated § 66-8-102 defines DUI as operating a motor vehicle when:

    • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or more, or
    • The use of drugs or alcohol impairs your driving ability.

    The penalties for a DUI depend on whether the accused has previous drunk driving-related convictions. 

    In New Mexico, a person’s first DUI conviction is a misdemeanor punishable by:

    • A maximum of 90 days in jail,
    • At least 24 community service hours,
    • Mandatory participation in DWI school,
    • A fine of up to $500, and
    • Loss of your driver’s license for one year.

    A second DUI conviction is punishable by the following potential penalties:

    • A maximum of 364 days in jail,
    • A fine of up to $1,000, 
    • At least 48 community service hours, and
    • Participation in DWI school.

    A third DUI conviction is punishable by the following potential penalties:

    • A minimum of 30 consecutive days in jail,
    • A maximum of 364 days in jail,
    • At least 96 community service hours, and
    • A fine of up to $1,000.

    A DUI conviction can impact multiple areas of your life, from future job opportunities to the price of your car insurance. Contact a member of our team today so we can start reviewing your case.

    What Should I Do If I Am Charged with DUI in New Mexico?

    Many people do not know how to react when they get pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving. Our team compiled some advice to prevent you from getting arrested when law enforcement lacks evidence to establish probable cause.

    Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent

    During your traffic stop, law enforcement may ask you questions about where you are coming from and where you are going. Although the officer may act friendly and curious, the prosecution can use anything you say against you in your DUI case. You should politely decline to answer any questions about things unrelated to your personal information and insurance coverage. 

    Do Not Perform Roadside Sobriety Tests

    Roadside sobriety tests involve a variety of mental and physical tasks designed to alert law enforcement to signs of impairment. Some standard field sobriety tests include:

    • One-leg stand,
    • Walk and turn,
    • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), and
    • Vertical gaze nystagmus (VGN).

    Police officers will typically not tell you that you can refuse a roadside sobriety test without penalty. If an officer asks you to perform field sobriety tests, politely decline the request.

    Many people want to submit to field sobriety tests to convince law enforcement they are sober. However, keep in mind that some of the roadside sobriety tests are tricky to complete, especially when someone is anxious about getting arrested. 

    Additionally, the sobriety tests give officers significant discretion over whether to make an arrest. An officer’s prejudice and bias can influence their charging decision more than the driver’s performance on the roadside sobriety test. 

    Defenses to a New Mexico DUI

    When a valid legal defense applies to your case, an experienced DUI lawyer can work with the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss your charges. Valid legal defenses to DUI charges include:

    • Someone else was driving the vehicle;
    • Law enforcement pulled you over without reasonable suspicion; or
    • Someone collected your blood or breath sample improperly.

    There is no guarantee that a legal defense will convince the prosecutor to adjust your charges. We will review the circumstances of your case and determine whether a legal defense applies.

    Contact a DUI Attorney at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices to Discuss Your Case

    An experienced DUI lawyer can explain the complexities of the New Mexico court process and answer your questions each step of the way. A DUI conviction can lead to jail time, loss of your driver’s license, and hefty fines. Do not wait until it is too late to contact an attorney.

    Our New Mexico Criminal Law Offices team has more than 25 years of experience representing individuals facing DUI charges in New Mexico. 

    Contact our office today to schedule a free initial consultation.