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  • Is a DUI a Felony In New Mexico?

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    New Mexico Criminal Law OfficesYou may be concerned about facing a felony charge if you pick up a DUI offense. Our clients often ask, Is a DUI a felony in New Mexico? Typically, DUI charges in New Mexico are misdemeanors. However, there are circumstances where you could face a felony charge, like if someone died, was seriously hurt, or you have multiple prior convictions. 

    Are you confused? It’s natural because the law is complex on this issue. A DUI charge can have serious consequences for you and your family. As a client of the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, we will be with you every step of the way and ensure that you receive an aggressive DUI defense. Contact us today.

    What Are DUI Classifications?

    New Mexico classifies DUI offenses based on factors like the number of prior convictions, the severity of the offenses, and whether or not your chemical test results were 0.08% or above. These factors determine whether you have misdemeanor or felony charges. 

    Committing homicide by vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor is a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony conviction carries a basic sentence of 15 years. The judge could increase or decrease the punishment based on the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors.

    The offense of committing great harm by a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor is a felony as well. State law classifies this offense as a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies carry a basic sentence of three years.

    New Mexico law also says that a person with a prior DWI conviction faces additional prison time if convicted of either homicide by vehicle or causing great bodily harm while intoxicated. The law is that the judge shall increase the basic sentence by four years for each DWI conviction within the previous 10 years.

    How Many DUIs Is a Felony in New Mexico?

    Your first, second, and third DUI convictions are misdemeanors. Your first DWI conviction carries a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail, one year of probation, and a $500 fine. You must complete 24 hours of community service and attend a DWI school.

    Second and third DWI convictions carry a maximum jail term of 364 days, a fine up to $1,000, and probation between one and five years. However, the law requires a minimum jail sentence of 96 consecutive hours and 48 hours of community service for a second conviction and an additional fine of $500. A conviction for a third DWI offense carries a 30-day minimum jail sentence, 96 hours of community service, and a fine of no less than $750. 

    A fourth conviction for DUI is a fourth-degree felony with an 18-month prison sentence. The court can suspend, defer, or take part of your sentence under advisement. The law requires the judge to order you to serve at least six months.

    Your fifth DWI conviction is a fourth-degree felony as well. However, your prison sentence increases to two years, with a one-year minimum to serve.

    The penalties continue to increase with each subsequent offense. A sixth DWI conviction is a third-degree felony and carries a 30-month prison term with 18 months minimum to serve. A seventh offense is also a third-degree felony that carries a three-year sentence with a minimum of two years to serve. Finally, an eighth or subsequent conviction is a second-degree felony and carries a 12-year sentence with 10 minimum to serve. 

    Fighting DUI changes is vitally important to protect your record. You need to fight your first offense aggressively. Otherwise, you could face felony charges for crimes that happened well in your past. Also, you should be aware that DUI convictions from other states could count against you in New Mexico.

    What Is Aggravated DUI?

    An aggravated DUI is a misdemeanor offense. The police can charge you with aggravated DUI if:

    • Your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds 0.16% within three hours of driving;
    • You cause bodily injury to a human because you drove a vehicle under the influence; or
    • You refused to submit to a chemical test as New Mexico law requires.

    Aggravated DUI charges apply to your first, second, and third offenses and do not attach to felony DUI charges.

    An aggravated DUI charge adds time to your jail sentence. For example, you could go to jail for 48 consecutive hours if your first offense is an aggravated DUI charge. The minimum jail time increases to 96 hours for a second offense and 60 days for a third offense.

    How Does the New Mexico Implied Consent Act Work?

    New Mexico Statutes section 66-8-107 is the Implied Consent Act. The law states that every person who drives a vehicle in New Mexico consents to a chemical test for DUI. The test compels each driver to provide a breath or blood sample to determine the suspect’s BAC. 

    A police officer must have reasonable grounds to believe you drove under the influence of alcohol or a drug to compel you to take a chemical test. You can refuse, but you will face an aggravated DUI charge if you do.

    The prosecution can use valid chemical test results against you. The police must charge you with DUI if your chemical test results are 0.08% or higher. The police might not charge you if your test results were 0.04% or lower. A test result between 0.04 and 0.08% indicates there is no legal presumption that you drove a passenger vehicle under the influence. However, the law allows the police to use other evidence with your test result to charge you with a DWI offense. Notwithstanding, the law presumes you to be intoxicated if you drove a commercial motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or greater.

    Why Choose New Mexico Criminal Law Offices to Fight Your DUI Case?

    We have a long track record of successfully defending DUI cases. We fight hard for you because clearing your name is our priority. By treating each client as an individual and thoroughly analyzing the facts, we devise the best possible strategy to defend our clients. Contact us today for a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.