Which Is Worse: DUI or DWI in New Mexico?

Posted on by dee

Some states separate DUI and DWI from one another, which means the punishments can be more severe for one over the opposite. In New Mexico, however, a DUI and DWI are similar, and the punishments only differ depending on how many past convictions you have for similar offenses.

DUI and DWI are used interchangeably in the state because they are similar offenses. Unfortunately, those unfamiliar with the law find the two acronyms confusing.

What Does DUI Mean versus DWI?

A DUI stands for “driving under the influence,” while a DWI means “driving while intoxicated.”

As you can see, they are fairly the same. Both are used for defendants who are driving while under the influence/intoxication of a substance – whether the substance is legal, illegal, or even prescribed. A person can be arrested for a DUI/DWI while taking prescription medications, drinking alcohol, or consuming illegal drugs. Bottom line: If it impairs your driving and you are caught, you have committed a DWI/DUI.

In New Mexico, most driving under the influence situations are referred to as DWI. And even if they are referred to as a DUI, there is no difference from a legal standpoint.

The only time you see a “worse” punishment is when you have more than one in your criminal history.

Understanding What New Mexico Considers a “DWI”

In the state, if you are 21 years or older, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over 0.08 percent. If you are under 21, that drops to 0.02 percent. And if you hold a commercial driver’s license, then you cannot operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher.

Also, even if a blood test or breath test is not performed because you have refused to take it, you will have an automatic driver’s license revocation.

What If the BAC Is under the Legal Limit?

Many assume that, as long as their BAC is under the legal limit, they cannot be charged with a DWI in the state. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

If your BAC is under the legal limit, but you are pulled over for reckless or obviously impaired driving, you can still be arrested for a DWI and charged with one. Anyone obviously impaired, but still operating a vehicle, is violating traffic laws and the safety of those on the streets. So do not assume if you are under the 0.08 percent mark you cannot be charged with a DUI.

The Effects of Alcohol on the Body – and How They Factor into a DWI Charge

Alcohol can impact your driving. Even though you might feel fine, you are more likely to cause a motor vehicle accident while under the influence of alcohol than while driving sober.

Just one drink can affect your safety on the road. Not only will you have decreased reaction times, but you may be drowsy and unaware of your surroundings – all of those factors into how you drive.

Also, even if you have had one drink, that one drink does not wear off quickly. Instead, it takes about one hour per drink for it to wear off effectively, and you cannot sober up using things like coffee or exercise. Instead, alcohol remains in your blood and your body until it is naturally expelled. 

One way to avoid a DWI is to plan ahead. If you plan to have one drink, then plan on waiting for at least one hour before driving so that you are sober enough to get home without risking anyone’s safety in the process.

The Effects of Drugs While Driving

You can face a DWI even if you are not drinking but taking drugs. These drugs can be prescribed by a physician, sold over the counter, or can be illegal substances.

Drugs can also make a person drowsy, anxious, increase rage, and slow reaction times. 

Always read the labels on any medication, including over-the-counter drugs, to make sure it is okay to operate a vehicle while taking it. Also, be cautious about mixing prescription and over-the-counter medications together as well as taking them while consuming alcohol. These can increase the negative effects of the medications.

A DWI Is a Serious Offense with Serious Consequences

Whether it is your first offense or second, you will face harsh consequences if you are convicted of a DWI – and those consequences can last long beyond the days spent in jail.

While first-time offenders are given a little leeway, they can still spend a few days in jail. Also, you will have an automatic driver’s license suspension, which means you cannot use your vehicle to get to work, the grocery store, or even take your children to school. This can dramatically impact your life. Even if you only spent one week in county jail, now you have no way to make a living. You must rely on others or public transportation, and you also now have a criminal record.

Now, if you are arrested and convicted of a second DUI, you will have a longer jail sentence, a harsher fine, and a longer period that you will lose your driver’s license – only further complicating your life and your ability to keep a job.

Most people who are arrested and convicted of DWIs find that their employment options are dramatically limited after they get out of jail. Some employers, especially those who require their employees to drive, cannot accept applications from anyone with a DWI – even if they still have their driver’s license.

Don’t Risk a DWI Affecting the Rest of Your Life – Speak with a Defense Attorney Today

Whether they call it a DUI or DWI, both will impact you for the rest of your life. Whether you have no driver’s license a few weeks or you spend over a year in jail, it is important to know that a DUI on your record is not something you can forget. To avoid the long-term consequences, speak with our skilled defense team. We understand the importance of protecting your rights. Let us help you.

Call the team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices now to schedule a free case evaluation. You can also request more information about our services online.

It is imperative to know that a DUI on your record is not something you can forget. To avoid the long-term consequences, speak to us today. Let us help!