What is a Felony DUI?
Driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is any circumstance when one operates a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. New Mexico does not take DUIs and DWIs lightly. While most DWIs in the state are charged as misdemeanors, there are instances where you could face a felony charge.
A New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorney can help Fight Felony DUI Charges
Felonies carry harsher penalties – including longer prison sentences. But, worse, they carry lifelong consequences that many arrestees do not think about. For example, if convicted, you will give up civil rights that include the right to vote, bear arms, or even join the armed forces. Also, a felony conviction will be with you for the rest of your life and could disqualify you for housing, employment opportunities, and even state-funded programs.
Felony DUIs are a Growing Trend
All states are employing harsher tactics when it comes to identifying and prosecuting those guilty of driving under the influence. But, over the past decade or so, prosecutors in the state have been working to identify potentially serious charges and stiffer penalties for those committing DWIs. These include the use of a felony DWI.
Repeat DWI Convictions Can Result in a Felony DWI
Some states carry the “three strikes” rule. This generally applies to three or more felonies, which result in a mandatory life sentence. New Mexico DUI statutes do have their own version of the three strikes rule when it comes to repeat offenders.
If you are charged with a fourth or subsequent DWI, the conviction is automatically enhanced to a felony. With each subsequent conviction after the third, the charges escalate and you could face harsher penalties.
The 5th conviction carries the harshest penalty of up to two years, with a minimum one year that cannot be deferred or suspended. Also, this is charged as a Third Degree felony.
DWIs That Result in Injuries
Another way for a felony DWI to occur is when injuries happen. If injures or death occur due to a DWI, the charge can be escalated to a felony. There are statutory provisions that deal with this very situation. In order to qualify as a felony, the accident must result in great bodily harm or death, or the injuries must involve a pregnant woman.
DWI with Children Present
Endangering the life of a child will automatically upgrade a misdemeanor DWI to a felony – regardless of whether you have previous convictions or not. The courts take endangerment very seriously. If you are charged with impairment to the slightest degree (which means that your BAC is under the 0.08 percent mark), you could still face a misdemeanor DWI.
Speak with an Attorney Regarding Your DWI Stop
If you have been arrested for a DWI, your charge could transform into a felony. This is why it is imperative that you speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices to speak with an attorney. Schedule a consultation now by calling 505-375-4672 or requesting more information online.