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  • How to Recover from a Drunk Driving Conviction

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    A conviction for a New Mexico drunk driving offense can carry significant penalties, even lookback duifor first-time offenders. For many, the focus may initially be on the immediate consequences of a conviction, which includes fines, a license suspension, probation, and even a period of incarceration. However, a New Mexico DUI conviction can also carry some long-term consequences.

    For those who are facing a drunk driving case in New Mexico, it is important to understand all immediate and collateral consequences of a conviction.

    Penalties for New Mexico Drunk Driving Crimes

    New Mexico lawmakers take drunk driving seriously, as do police officers, prosecutors, and judges. In fact, the state has some of the strictest DUI penalties in the country. In every DUI case, the judge will order a substance abuse screening. Once complete, the judge will consider the results of the screening along with the facts of the case to fashion a sentence. However, under state law, a judge must keep a DUI sentence within the following ranges:

    First Offense:

    • A maximum of 90 days in jail
    • A fine of up to $500
    • A minimum of 24 hours of community service
    • License revocation for up to one year
    • Ignition interlock device

    Second Offense:

    • 4 to 364 days in jail
    • A fine between $500 and $1,000
    • A minimum of 48 hours of community service
    • Up to five years’ probation
    • License revocation for two years
    • Ignition interlock device

    Third Offense:

    • 30 to 364 days in jail
    • A fine between $750 and $1,000
    • A minimum of 96 hours of community service
    • Up to five years’ probation
    • License revocation for three years
    • Ignition interlock device

    First, second, and third offenses are all misdemeanors. However, any subsequent convictions are felonies.

    Fourth Offense:

    • 180 days to 18 months days in jail
    • A fine of up to $5,000
    • Lifetime license revocation (with court review every five years)
    • Up to five years’ probation

    The penalties continue to steepen with each additional conviction. However, the court-imposed penalties are only half of what individuals convicted of a New Mexico DUI offense must deal with. There are also collateral consequences of a conviction that, in some cases, can be just as serious.

    Collateral Consequences of a New Mexico DUI Conviction

    Collateral consequences of a criminal conviction are legal disabilities that are imposed by law as a result of a criminal conviction. Generally, collateral consequences are those consequences that impact someone’s social, financial, professional, or familial status. While a collateral consequence is imposed by law, it is not typically considered a “punishment.”

    Felony convictions carry the most significant collateral consequences; however, convictions for misdemeanor crimes also carry collateral consequences. According to the New Mexico Sentencing Commission Report, there are 71 collateral consequences. A few of the collateral consequences associated with a New Mexico DUI conviction are:

    Licenses Revocation – Although revocation of a driver’s license is considered part of the penalty associated with a DUI conviction, the inability to drive is also a collateral consequence because it affects so many other areas of a person’s life. Whether it be picking up kids from school, driving to work, or taking a family member to the doctor’s office, the inability to drive can be a major detriment.

    Employment Limitations – In 2019, New Mexico adopted legislation prohibiting employers from making inquiries about an applicant’s criminal history on an employment application.  Employers are also precluded from asking about any expunged or sealed convictions. However, employers can still run a criminal history check later in the process. An employer who finds out that a job applicant has been convicted of a New Mexico DUI may legally choose not to hire that applicant. Certain professions, such as doctors, nurses, and pilots also have restrictions pertaining to a DUI conviction.

    Firearm Possession – Those who have been convicted of a felony offense anywhere in the United States are prohibited from possessing a firearm in New Mexico. Typically, most DUI cases are misdemeanors; however, a fourth-offense DUI is a felony.

    Child Custody – While a single drunk driving conviction may not make the difference in a child custody case, multiple DUI convictions may indicate to the family court that a parent has a substance abuse disorder. In turn, this could have an impact on that parent’s ability to obtain custody of a minor child. Of course, if someone is arrested for DUI while a child is in the car, this could be used by the other side to show that the parent was reckless or not a suitable caretaker.

    New Mexico DUIs Are Not Eligible for Expungement

    Unlike many other states, New Mexico does not provide a way for someone with a DUI conviction to get the conviction expunged from their record. Thus, once a conviction is on someone’s record, it will remain there for 55 years.

    As a result, when it comes to New Mexico DUI offenses, the best way to ensure that an arrest has as little effect on your life as possible is to consult with a dedicated defense attorney as early as possible. While there are stiff penalties for New Mexico DUI offenses, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you get into a diversionary program. If that is not a possibility, an attorney can scour the police reports to develop a compelling defense.

    Have You Been Arrested for a New Mexico Drunk Driving Offense?

    If you are facing a New Mexico DUI case, contact the dedicated defense attorneys at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. Police, prosecutors, and judges take drunk driving crimes very seriously, and so should you. Even if this is your first offense, a conviction can carry lifelong consequences. At the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, our knowledgeable attorneys will go over all your options so that you can move on with your life as quickly as possible. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with an experienced defense attorney, you can reach us by phone or through our online form.