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  • DUI: Avoid DUI During New Year’s Eve

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    DUI on new year's eve.Nothing can ruin the holidays like a New Year’s Eve DUI. Instead of starting the new year on the right foot, you’ll face the possibility of spending it in jail. Many law enforcement agencies ramp up patrols on New Year’s Eve in anticipation of catching drunk drivers. In some cases, the added excitement can lead to wrongful DUI arrests. Having a DUI conviction on your record can turn your life upside down.

    If you received a drunk driving charge over the holidays, DUI charges lawyers at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices could help. Contact us today.

    What Penalties Come With a New Year’s Eve DUI?

    The penalties for a DUI in New Mexico depend primarily on whether you have previous drunk driving convictions. New Mexico lays out its drunk driving laws in the New Mexico Statutes Annotated Section 66-8-102.

    A first-time drunk driving conviction carries the potential of up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. A second-time drunk driving conviction carries the potential of up to 364 days in jail, with a required minimum of four days. Additionally, it carries the possibility of a fine between $500 and $1000. A third-time DUI conviction carries a minimum of 30 days in jail with a maximum of 364 days in jail.  Additionally, it carries the possibility of a fine between $750 and $1000.

    Even your first DUI conviction can result in you losing your driver’s license for up to one year. As you might expect, this can create a real hardship when you are trying to fulfill the other requirements of your conviction, like seeing your probation officer or going to alcohol treatment classes.

    No one wants to return from the holidays with a DUI. Still, if you find yourself facing DUI charges, reach out to an attorney as soon as you can.

    New Year’s Eve DUI Checkpoints

    Because drunk driving on holidays occurs frequently, many DUI checkpoints pop up around this time as well. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a state’s concern and ability to protect the public from drunk drivers outweighs concerns over the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment. So essentially, our right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures takes a bit of a back seat to law enforcement’s ability to protect the public from drunk drivers. Therefore, at checkpoints, the police do not need reasonable suspicion that you are doing anything wrong to stop you.

    However, law enforcement must follow certain guidelines when maintaining a DUI checkpoint.

    Legal Requirements for New Year’s Eve DUI Checkpoints

    If authorities fail to follow certain requirements during the administration of a DUI checkpoint, the court could exclude evidence obtained at the checkpoint from the prosecution’s case. As mentioned—and unlike a normal traffic stop—law enforcement doesn’t need reasonable suspicion to stop you at a New Year’s Eve DUI checkpoint. The overarching requirement for law enforcement personnel conducting a sobriety checkpoint is that the checkpoint must be “reasonable.” The New Mexico Court of Appeals outlined eight considerations for determining the reasonableness of a checkpoint in City of Las Cruces v. Betancourt, 735 P.2d 1161 (N.M. Ct. App. 1987). The eight factors to consider include:

    • The role of supervisory personnel in establishing the sobriety checkpoint;
    • Restrictions on the discretion of officers in the field;
    • The safety measures aimed at warning oncoming traffic of the checkpoint and the degree of congestion it caused;
    • The deterrent effect and the detection value of the sobriety checkpoint;
    • Time of day the checkpoint is set up;
    • Clear indications that the goal of the checkpoint is drunk driving detection;
    • Length and nature of the detention of each motorist; and
    • The existence of publicity given to the checkpoint in advance.

    A New Year’s Eve DUI checkpoint doesn’t have to satisfy every factor for the court to consider the checkpoint reasonable.

    If law enforcement establishes an unreasonable sobriety checkpoint, a judge will likely exclude any evidence obtained at that checkpoint from being used in court. In that case, you might be able to avoid DUI charges resulting from the stop altogether.

    What Should I Do If I’m Pulled Over For Drunk Driving?

    Even if you aren’t driving under the influence, pulling up to a sobriety checkpoint can cause anyone to get flustered. Here are some reminders if you find yourself dealing with a traffic stop.

    Remember Your Right to Remain Silent

    Police officers frequently make small talk with drivers after a traffic stop. Sometimes, this can land you in trouble. You don’t have to answer any questions about where you’re going or where you’ve been, even if an officer asks you.

    Refuse Voluntary Roadside Sobriety Tests

    Field sobriety tests give law enforcement authorities the chance to make subjective observations about the intoxicated state of the driver. You do not have to perform field sobriety tests. If an officer asks you to perform a field sobriety test, politely refuse and ask to speak to your lawyer. If the police locate other evidence that you’ve been drinking—like an open alcohol container—they can arrest you on suspicion of drunk driving even if you refuse to perform field sobriety tests.

    Cooperate with Law Enforcement

    The failure to cooperate with law enforcement can result in the filing of additional charges against you. You don’t need to give the officers any reason to add more charges to your arrest, so always remain polite and obey any reasonable requests that don’t infringe on your rights. If you refuse to answer questions or take the FSE’s, do so as politely as you can.

    Finally, Contact a New Mexico DUI Charges Attorney

    If you’re facing a DUI charge, you need an attorney right away. A DUI conviction can result in jail time and impact other areas of your life. Consulting with a lawyer can help you figure out what your options are and the best way to proceed.

    Our legal team at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices has focused their efforts on defending the rights of clients facing criminal charges since 1997. We have represented hundreds of clients facing all levels of DUI charges. Additionally, we pride ourselves on giving you individualized attention and getting the best possible outcome in your case. Contact our office at 505-200-2982 or contact us using our form to get started on your free consultation.