DUI: What Are Its Civil Remedies in New Mexico?
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a crime. Understandably, when most people think about the consequences of a New Mexico DUI conviction, they think about the criminal punishments that come along with a conviction. However, driving under the influence is also a violation of the conditions of your driver’s license. Thus, there are also civil, or administrative, repercussions of a drunk driving conviction. Most notably, if you get charged with DUI, the motor vehicle department suspends your driver’s license. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, understanding the DUI civil remedies in New Mexico may be able to help you keep your driving privileges.
The Consequences of a New Mexico DUI Conviction
From the moment a police officer pulls you over and begins a DUI investigation, you face both criminal and administrative consequences. The criminal consequences of a DUI conviction involve the possibility of jail time, probation, fines, mandatory community service, DWI school, and a driver’s license suspension. However, these punishments only apply to those convicted of a DUI offense. In other words, if you beat your case, you will not suffer any criminal penalties.
When you obtain a New Mexico driver’s license, you agree to refrain from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You also agree to take a chemical test if an officer has probable cause to believe you are under the influence. So, if you take a blood or breath test that shows you were under the influence or you refuse to take a chemical test, you violate that agreement. The legal limit for alcohol in New Mexico is .08% blood alcohol content (BAC). For illegal drugs, there is no legal limit, any amount can get you charged with DUI.
Once arrested, administrative penalties kick in almost immediately. The arresting officer will confiscate your license on the spot. From that point, you have 20 days to drive until the revocation period begins.
In these cases, the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) will automatically revoke your driver’s license. Administrative or implied consent revocations are totally independent of a criminal conviction. This means an administrative revocation may remain in place even if you are later found not guilty of DUI. Additionally, if the MVD revokes your license for a DUI arrest, you cannot obtain a limited or restricted license. The only way to retain your driving privileges is to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
An administrative license revocation can range from six months to one year. If it is your first time failing a chemical test, the revocation period is six months. However, if you have a prior failed test or you refuse to take a test, the MVD suspension will be for one year.
While an administrative suspension is automatic, you can pursue DUI civil remedies in New Mexico. However, relief is difficult to obtain without the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
What Are the Civil Remedies for DUI in New Mexico?
State law allows for anyone suffering an administrative revocation to challenge the revocation of their driving privileges. To challenge a civil driver’s license revocation, you must request an administrative hearing within 10 days of your arrest. Note that to be timely, your request for a hearing cannot wait until the revocation period begins. Thus, it is important that you act quickly if you intend on challenging an administrative revocation. You must also make the request in writing and pay a $25 hearing fee.
If you request an administrative hearing, the hearing will take place within 90 days. At the hearing, the MVD will only reverse a six-month revocation if you can prove one of the following:
- The police officer who stopped you lacked probable cause;
- You were not arrested for DUI;
- The hearing was not held in a timely manner; and
- The chemical test was not administered properly.
Additionally, if the MVD revocation was based on your refusal to take the test, you may be able to challenge the revocation on the basis that the arresting officer failed to provide you with the necessary warnings of refusing the test.
One-year revocations are even harder to challenge. The only way you can get the MVD to reverse a one-year revocation is to meet both of the following criteria.
- You do not have a prior administrative revocation on your record; and
- You did not refuse to take a chemical test.
While it may be difficult to get out from under an administrative revocation in New Mexico, it is possible when you have an experienced attorney representing you.
How Can the Government Revoke My License if I Wasn’t Found Guilty?
Under state and federal law, you are not guilty of a crime unless the government proves you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The reason why the MVD can revoke your license immediately even though you have not been found guilty of the crime is that administrative sanctions are not criminal in nature. In other words, an MVD revocation is not considered a criminal punishment (even though it certainly feels like one). Thus, instead of proving you drove under the influence beyond a reasonable doubt, the MVD can revoke your license if it can show you were under the influence or refused a test by the preponderance of the evidence. This standard is much easier to meet.
Have You Been Arrested for a New Mexico DUI?
If the police arrest you for a DUI offense you may be wondering, What are the civil remedies for DUI in New Mexico? After such an arrest, the best thing you can do for yourself is to contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. If you want to challenge the administrative revocation of your license, you only have 10 days to do so. Thus, you must act quickly. At the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, our dedicated New Mexico DUI defense lawyers routinely handle both criminal and civil DUI hearings on behalf of our clients. We have successfully helped countless clients keep their driving privileges. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable New Mexico criminal defense lawyers, give us a call at 502-200-2982. You can also reach us through our online form.