A New Law Aims to Increase the Penalties for DWI in New Mexico
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is the crime of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. New Mexico has one of the highest rates of alcohol-related fatalities in the nation. Though these rates have declined over the past decade, New Mexico remains committed to reducing the occurrence of DWI on its roads and highways, and thereby the number of deaths attributed to drunk driving.
A Brief Overview of DWI in New Mexico
You may be arrested and charged with DWI in New Mexico whenever you are caught driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .08 if you are over 21 years of age. If you are younger than 21 years of age, the limit is a BAC of .02, and if you are operating a commercial vehicle it is .04.
Furthermore, you can be charged with aggravated DWI, and face harsher penalties, under the following conditions:
- Your BAC is greater than .16
- You refuse to take a breath test
- You cause injury to another when driving while intoxicated
The severity of the penalties that you receive for a DWI will depend on a variety of factors, most importantly the number of prior DWI convictions you have, as well as whether or not anyone was injured or killed as a result of your DWI.
Increased Penalties For DWI in New Mexico
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has recently signed a bill that will really give drunk drivers something to think about. The new law will allow drunk drivers who kill someone to be sentenced like murderers.
Under the new bill, the penalties for a DWI leading to homicide are dramatically increased; currently, that crime carries a maximum penalty of up to six years in prison. However, under the new bill signed by Governor Martinez, the maximum penalty is up to 12 years for each person killed, due to the crime – which is equal to the sentence for second degree murder. The bill also includes increased penalties for the worst of the worst among drunk drivers – eight or more DWIs will carry a minimum sentence of at least 10 years behind bars.
The governor’s push for tougher penalties for repeat DWI offenders was ignited by a couple of recent auto accidents. The first occurred on Nov. 29, 2015, in Albuquerque in which three young adults were killed when a vehicle allegedly ran a stop sign and hit their vehicle. The driver who ran the stop sign, whom the police reported as being “extremely inebriated,” was charged with three counts of vehicular homicide for the accident.
In a more recent accident, a 45-year-old man who had recently been released from prison after serving 10 years for killing a 58-year-old woman in a drunk driving accident, was arrested again for his seventh DWI charge.
Many applaud the new bill and see it as a big step forward in providing justice for the families of those who are killed by drunk drivers. However, others view the bill as misguided, stating that attention should be turned towards the rehabilitation of repeat offenders rather than tougher sentencing guidelines. The new penalties will go into effect in July of 2016.
Discuss Your Case with a New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorney
Drivers facing DWI charges need to discuss their case with a New Mexico criminal defense attorney. The experienced DWI defense attorneys at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices understand the charges and penalties you are facing, and will work hard to ensure that your rights are protected in court. Call us today at (505) 375-4664 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.