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What Is an Aggravated DUI?


drugged drivingIn New Mexico, a DUI or DWI is driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. While most people are aware of this, many do not realize there is a secondary offense known as the aggravated DUI or DWI.

Aggravated DUI charges are serious and can have harsher penalties than a basic DUI.

New Mexico officers are now cracking down on DWI enforcement, especially charges of aggravated DWI. The enhances penalties and fines for this type of DUI are life-altering, and you cannot expect to just walk away with a slap on the wrist – even as a first time offender.

What Is an Aggravated DWI in Albuquerque?

Aggravated DWIs can be obtained in multiple ways, which surprises many defendants when they find themselves charged with it. You can obtain this charge with enhanced penalties by:

  1. Refusing to take a BAC test or breathalyzer test as requested by law enforcement;
  2. Testing at 0.16 percent BAC or higher; or
  3. Causing bodily harm while driving under the influence (even with a BAC of less than 0.16 percent).

Note that the prosecution still has the burden of proving you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for any crime. However, aggravated DWIs, in a way, are almost easier for them to show. For starters, if you outright refuse to take the breathalyzer or blood test, you sign a form. Therefore, the prosecution has proof that you refused your chemical test.

If you test over 0.16 percent, the prosecution would have the laboratory tests to confirm it.

Likewise, if you cause bodily injury, such as a car accident, there would be photographs, witness statements, and police reports about the car accident.

While it makes their job slightly easier, there are defenses and it is imperative you hire an attorney to mount one for you. In these cases, with the prosecution having powerful evidence, you could face harsher penalties than a simple DWI charge.

Mandatory Penalties Apply to Aggravated DWI Cases

In New Mexico, if you are convicted of a DUI or DWI, you are sentenced with mandatory guidelines. That means that there is a mandatory sentence that the judge must impose. Like a regular DUI, the mandatory penalties could include jail or prison time, attending a driver awareness course, undergoing evaluation for alcohol/drug dependency, and using an ignition interlock device for up to one year. You may also have community service and a loss of your driving license, depending on the BAC content and circumstances of your case.

If convicted of an aggravated DWI, here are the potential penalties you could face:

First Offense Aggravated DWI

For a first-time offender, you may serve 48 hours of mandatory jail time. You will also have court fees and fines imposed by the judge. Because you are a first-time offender, you will only have one-year probation but you might also be required to attend driving school and undergo an evaluation.

If you refused to take the test, you automatically forfeit your driver’s license and you will need to go through the administrative steps to reinstate it. Note, your driver’s license has nothing to do with the criminal court in this case. Instead, you would need to request a hearing with the department of motor vehicles.

Second Offense Aggravated DWI

A second offense aggravated DWI upgrades from 48 hours to 96 hours of mandatory jail time and an additional 96 hours for the aggravated enhancement. Furthermore, the fine can be up to $1,000 with a $500 mandatory.

The probation period is longer with a second offense, and you are going to have to use an ignition interlock device if you get your driver’s license back.

Third Offense Aggravated DWI

A third offense is taken more seriously by the courts. Not only do you have a minimum of 30 days for a third-offense DWI, but you will encounter an additional 60 days for the aggravated portion – meaning 90 days mandatory jail time. You also have a mandatory $750 to $1,000 fine with it.

The Consequences of an Ignition Interlock Device

Most defendants do not put much thought into the IID. After all, they are facing court fines, penalties, and jail time. However, the IID is something to consider because it will affect you for months or even years after you are released.

First, you are required to pay for the installation of the IID – the court does not cover this. Second, before your car starts you must breathe into the device. As long as no alcohol is detected, the engine starts. If you fail, the engine locks and you can try again. Also, while driving, you will be notified that you must pull over and give a repeat sample. These devices do this to ensure that you did not have someone else blow into it to start the engine.

IIDs have monthly monitoring fees, which are your responsibility. If the IID is a court requirement, failing to upkeep the monthly monitoring could result in further court punishment. Also, if the device breaks due to misuse, you must replace it immediately at your cost.

Other Long-Term Consequences of an Aggravated DWI

Not only will you lose your driver’s license for some time (and in some cases, permanently), but a conviction can affect the rest of your life. You now have a criminal record, which means you might disqualify for housing, job opportunities, and even forms of state assistance.

If you work in an industry that requires a license (such as commercial driving), you will lose your job and need to find a new career.

Speak with an Attorney Immediately about Your Aggravated DWI Charge

Even if this is a first-time offense, you cannot risk the costs and consequences of a conviction. A criminal record follows you the rest of your life, and it can impact the quality of your future as well as your family’s.

Protect your rights by contacting a defense attorney, immediately. Speak with an attorney from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today at 505-200-2982 or request more information online about our services.