Independent Testing in a DUI Case
According to a report published by the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the state recorded 10,376 arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in 2019. However, the state recorded only 5,781 convictions. The report also indicates that at least 887 arrests eventually resulted in a dismissal of the charges. As you can see, not every DUI arrest leads to a conviction. Sometimes a defendant can avoid a DUI conviction by securing an independent chemical test to dispute the chemical test performed by authorities. If you want more information about your right to obtain independent testing in a DUI case, contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today.
DUI Laws in New Mexico: An Overview
New Mexico prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle:
- While under the influence of alcohol or drugs that render the driver incapable of safely driving the vehicle; or
- With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08%.
New Mexico authorizes charges of aggravated DUI for drivers who:
- Operate a vehicle with a BAC at or above 0.16%;
- Cause bodily injury to another as a result of driving under the influence; or
- Refuse to submit to chemical testing despite evidence of intoxication.
A first-time DUI conviction in New Mexico carries the potential of up to 90 days in jail and a possible fine of up to $500. New Mexico increases the potential penalties of a DUI for every subsequent conviction.
Chemical Testing in a DUI Case
In most cases, authorities establish proof that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol by obtaining a chemical test of your blood or breath. Under New Mexico’s implied consent law, every person who drives in New Mexico consents to have their blood or breath tested for drugs or alcohol if they are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. If you refuse, you can face charges of aggravated DUI instead of regular DUI charges. Additionally, authorities will take your driver’s license immediately.
Obtaining Independent Testing in a DUI Case
New Mexico allows drivers arrested on suspicion of DUI to obtain their own independent chemical test. According to
N.M. Stat. § 66-8-109, the officer who administers the chemical test must advise the test subject of their right to arrange for a physician, licensed professional, practical nurse, or laboratory technician employed by a hospital or physician of their own choosing to perform an additional chemical test. Law enforcement must also pay the cost of the additional test. Additionally, the law requires law enforcement to provide the person being tested with all of the information related to the chemical test they performed upon request. Even if you do not know whether the authorities performed their chemical test inaccurately, it is never a bad idea to request independent testing in a DUI case. Several factors can lead to an inaccurate chemical test, including:
- Mechanical errors;
- Failure to follow protocols;
- Human errors;
- Improper maintenance of the machine; and
- Lack of machine calibration.
Even if your independent test does not help your case, it will not hurt your case either.
What Is an Independent Test?
An independent test means a test in addition to the test conducted by law enforcement at the time of your arrest. You can choose whether you want a blood or breath test. Keep in mind that blood tests are usually considered more reliable.
If you have questions about what chemical tests are used in New Mexico DUI cases, reach out to our team of criminal charges attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices.
Can Independent Testing Serve as Evidence?
The results of your independent test are admissible as evidence in your DUI case. Additionally, you can use evidence of the test results in your license revocation hearing. However, it is important to make sure the person conducting the test is authorized to do so, or the court will not consider the results of that test as evidence. You will also need the person who conducted the test to testify in court that the test was performed accurately.
Potential Issues with Independent Testing
Even though law enforcement pays for the test itself, you bear the burden of paying any costs associated with getting the official who conducted your test into court to testify.
Another potential issue involves the amount of time that passes between your arrest and your independent chemical test. Typically, alcohol dissipates from an individual’s system when they stop drinking. Therefore, a chemical test administered one hour after you stopped drinking might show different results than a test administered four hours after you stopped drinking. If the prosecution can prove that your independent test listed inaccurate results due to the passage of time, the court might disregard the independent test.
Many DUI arrests occur at night. Therefore, some people experience difficulty getting in touch with a medical facility that will perform a timely independent chemical test.
Questions About Independent Testing in a DUI? Contact New Mexico Criminal Law Offices Today
Many drivers arrested for DUI in New Mexico do not know about their right to request an independent chemical test. An independent test could potentially save you from a conviction. Depending on the results, the prosecution could elect to lessen your criminal charges or dismiss them altogether.
Our team of lawyers has focused on defending the rights of clients facing criminal charges since 1997. We have handled hundreds of DUI cases, including those that involve independent testing. At the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, we know that a “one-size-fits-all” defense strategy does very little to help our clients. That is why we take the time to meet with you, dig into your case in detail, and tailor a defense strategy to the specific facts of your case. If you want more information about independent testing in a DUI case, contact our office today.