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  • Penalties for DUI in New Mexico

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    Penalties for DUI in New MexicoNew Mexico DUI laws are tough. These laws contain harsh penalties, even for a first-time offender. Consequently, a DUI (also known as DWI) conviction in New Mexico places you at risk of going to jail and losing your license. How could going to jail and losing your license affect your life? Can you keep your job? How would your family manage? 

    Our DUI defense lawyers with the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices understand what you’re up against. We’ve defended numerous DUI cases successfully. Our documented track record of success and our vast experience as criminal defense lawyers give you the advantage you need to have the best chance to avoid the penalties for DUI in New Mexico. Contact us today.

    What Is the Definition of a DUI in New Mexico?

    New Mexico law defines DUI as driving a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor. Additionally, New Mexico’s DUI statute also prohibits operating a vehicle under the influence of any drug to the degree that the person cannot drive safely. Under these laws, the police use how you drive and other indicators of intoxication—such as slurred speech, glassy eyes, confusion, and failing field sobriety tests—to prove their case. These observations are good indicators of someone who is under the influence of alcohol. They are less reliable when detecting someone under the influence of drugs.

    New Mexico’s DUI statute also has the state’s per se law. Accordingly, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater, when measured by a blood test or breathalyzer, within three hours of last driving means you were, per se, under the influence of alcohol. There is a caveat. Your BAC must be from the alcohol you drank before or while you were driving and not after. 

    The per se, or “legal limit,” drops to 0.04% if you drive a commercial vehicle. 

    Aggravated DUI is also a crime in New Mexico. New Mexico’s DUI law defines aggravated DUI as:

    • Driving with a BAC of 0.16% or above, 
    • Causing bodily injury to a human by driving under the influence, or 
    • Refusing to give the breath or blood sample required by New Mexico’s implied consent law.

    The implied consent infraction only becomes an aggravated DUI if the court later finds that, based on the evidence, you were under the influence of intoxicating substances at the time you refused to provide a sample for analysis. 

    What Does Implied Consent Mean?

    Driving is a privilege and not a right. If you choose to take advantage of this privilege, New Mexico law states that any person operating a vehicle within the state of New Mexico automatically consents to give a breath or blood sample after a DUI arrest. The state says you implied that you agreed to take a blood or breath test by driving on a New Mexico road. You never have to consent; however, you can refuse to take the test. As stated above, refusing a chemical test when under the influence means you will face an aggravated DUI accusation. Additionally, the police could ask a judge for a search warrant to take your blood if you refused and allegedly committed a felony. 

    Failing a chemical test has immediate repercussions. If you are 21 or older or driving a commercial vehicle, you will lose your license for six months or until you meet all of the reinstatement conditions, whichever is later. 

    You will lose your license for one year or until you complete the reinstatement requirements, whichever is later, under the following circumstances:

    • If you are under 21 and have a BAC of 0.02% or greater, or 
    • If you have previously had your license suspended for refusing to take a chemical test.

    The New Mexico Motor Vehicles Division administratively revokes your license. This license loss is separate from any suspension you could receive if you lose your DUI case in court. 

    Administrative Appeals

    You can appeal the revocation of your license. You must file the appeal within 10 days of your arrest and pay the $25 fee. Your hearing will take place within 90 days.

    The hearing officer does not determine your innocence or guilt. Instead, the hearing officer looks at the procedure to be sure the officer followed the law. You could win the appeal if you consented to take a chemical test or have never had an administrative revocation before. In the latter case, the MVD will reduce your suspension to six months.

    One of our DUI defense lawyers can help increase the chances of winning your appeal. However, you must act fast to preserve your right to appeal. Call us right away if you want to appeal your administrative license revocation.

    Penalties for DUI Convictions

    The penalties for DUI in New Mexico depend on the circumstances.

    First Offense

    If you have no record, or it is your first DUI offense, you would face the following penalties:

    • Up to 90 days in jail, 
    • A one-year license revocation, 
    • Evaluation and treatment for alcohol problems, 
    • Up to a $500 fine, 
    • DUI school, and 
    • A specific number of community service hours. 

    An aggravated first-offense DUI requires a minimum of 48 hours in jail. The judge has no discretion to defer or suspend the two-day jail sentence—however, any time you spend in jail on your DUI charge before conviction counts towards those 48 hours. 

    Second Offense

    A person with a second offense faces: 

    • A minimum of 96 consecutive hours in jail, with a maximum jail sentence not to exceed 364 days; 
    • License revocation for two years; 
    • Up to $1,000 in fines;
    • Ignition interlock for two years; 
    • A minimum of 48 hours of community service; and
    • Alcohol treatment program.

    You typically complete these conditions while on probation for one to five years. 

    Third Offense

    A third DUI conviction is punishable by the following:

    • A minimum of 30 consecutive days in jail (which increases to a minimum of 60 consecutive days for aggravated DUI), up to a maximum of one year in jail;
    • A two-year license revocation;
    • Ignition interlock for three years;
    • A minimum $750 fine, up to a maximum of $1,000;
    • Community service for a minimum of 96 hours; and
    • Substance abuse screening and treatment.

    Again, these conditions are typically completed while on probation for a term of one to five years.

    Fourth Offense

    A fourth DUI is a felony offense that could result in a state prison sentence. The state prison sentence increases with each subsequent conviction. The basic penalties are as follows:

    • Six months mandatory jail time, with the potential for up to 18 months in prison;
    • Up to a $5,000 fine;
    • Substance abuse screening and treatment;
    • Lifetime revocation of driver’s license; and
    • Ignition interlock for life. 

    You can petition for the removal of the ignition interlock device and the restoration of your license five years after your conviction if you don’t get another DUI. If that petition is denied, you can renew your petition every five years after that.

    Representation from a tenacious advocate can help you avoid a conviction, even for a first offense. As you can see, the punishment for subsequent offenses is harsh. Therefore, it is important to protect your rights and fight to beat your DUI case so you do not have to face enhanced sentences from multiple DUI convictions.

    Avoid Harsh DUI Penalties with an Experienced DUI Attorney

    Our DWI lawyers are ready to fight for you and clear your name. We will be by your side through every step of the criminal process, and our vast experience defending DUI cases will help ensure that you get the best defense possible. We never back down from a fight. Contact us today to discuss how we can help to protect your future.