New Mexico DUIs and DWIs
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Drivers getting a DUI in New Mexico are generally required to pay steep fines and serve jail sentences as a result, provided they have been convicted in court. Aside from the DUI penalties administered by state courts, the NM Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) has the authority to impose separate punishments to motorists who fail to abide by DUI laws, typically in the form of a license confiscation and revocation for a limited period of time.
Drivers are in violation of New Mexico drunk driving laws if they refuse to submit to chemical testing or operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeding the legal limits. Since a DWI conviction remains on the offender’s NM driving transcript for 55 years, licensees who are at risk of incurring one should consider hiring an experienced lawyer for a positive outcome. Learn more about DUI and DWI in New Mexico in the sections that follow.
DUI Citations and Convictions in New Mexico
If you are pulled over by a police officer on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, you will be asked to take a breath test to determine the level of BAC in your system. A New Mexico DWI arrest, along with an MVD-imposed license revocation, will follow if you refuse to take a test or fail it. In addition to the administrative consequences, the arresting officer will also issue a DWI traffic ticket, requiring you to resolve the case in court. If you fail to resolve your citation and the corresponding court finds you guilty of the committed offense, you will be subject to separate penalties, such as steep fines and possible imprisonment.
New Mexico Under the Influence Violations and Penalties
Motorists will incur serious DUI penalties in New Mexico after violating the BAC limit or Implied Consent law. The severity of the charges and consequences will be based on the offender’s age when he/she committed the misdemeanor, prior offenses on his or her driving history, the determined BAC level and more. While adult drivers will be penalized administratively and criminally for NM DUI and DWI with a BAC of .08 percent or more, commercial drivers and minors will incur punishments for lower BAC levels.
Note: If a police officer arrests you and confiscates your license for DWI, and MVD orders a revocation of your privilege to drive, you have the option to protest your revocation by requesting an administrative hearing within 10 days of your arrest.
First DUI Offense
If you have been convicted of a New Mexico DUI offense for the first time, your credential will be revoked for 1 year. A first-time violation will also lead to fines, additional court costs and a possible jail sentence. Additional requirements, including the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), may apply as well.
Second DUI Offense
A conviction of a second DUI in NM generally results in larger drunk driving fines and longer jail sentences, per state driving laws. Drivers with a second conviction on their driving report will have their driver’s license revoked for 2 years and may be obliged to pay increased fines.
Third and Subsequent DUI Offenses
State agencies typically impose the toughest DUI penalties on motorists with more than two offenses and court convictions on record in order to deter drivers from drinking while operating a motor vehicle. While drivers convicted of a third DUI will lose their driving privilege for 3 years, licensees committing a fourth or subsequent offense thereafter may incur a lifetime revocation.
Note: Similar consequences apply to drivers who refuse to submit to a chemical testing. First-time offenders, for example, will face a 1-year license revocation for test refusal. Drivers of commercial vehicles arrested or convicted of drunk driving, on the other hand, will be penalized with a 1 year or lifetime CDL disqualification for a first or second offense, respectively. Minors committing an underage DUI in New Mexico due to test refusal or a BAC of .02 percent or higher will also incur a license revocation for 1 year, among other punishments.
Drinking and Driving in New Mexico
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a major cause of serious vehicle accidents usually resulting in injuries and death, as alcohol greatly affects a driver’s ability to drive safely, impairing judgment, concentration and vision. Strict New Mexico impaired driving laws are enforced by state courts and NM MVD in an attempt to prevent drivers from consuming alcoholic beverages while behind the wheel to reduce the risk of causing fatal car accidents. More severe penalties apply to licensees who fail to abide by these rules and regulations.
New Mexico DUI Attorneys
Motorists will need to engage the services of an NM impaired driving lawyer after committing a DUI offense to help them fight the matter in court or lessen their punishments as much as possible. An experienced defense attorney must be able to advise drivers on how to plead, explain court proceedings and the applicable penalties and help them choose the best course of action for their case. When seeking help from a DUI defense attorney in New Mexico, however, motorists should conduct in-depth research and inspect the professional background of several candidates, ensuring they select the one who best fits their situation.
Reinstating a Suspended Drivers License in New Mexico
Issuing a revoked or NM DUI suspended license to motorists who have committed a DWI violation is a standard procedure for both state courts and the Motor Vehicle Division. Licensees who have had their NM license suspended must remember that it is their responsibility to reinstate their credential to legally drive on public roads and highways once again.
In order to reinstate a suspended license due to DUI and DWI, drivers will need to complete the following steps:
- Wait out a mandatory revocation period.
- Satisfy any ignition interlock requirements.
- Complete a DUI traffic school program (if applicable).
- Arrange payment for any potential fines and fees (if required).
Note: It is not uncommon for motor vehicle agencies to require DUI offenders to submit proof of financial responsibility when restoring their license. Contact a local MVD branch to verify whether this applies to your case.
New Mexico Alcohol Awareness Classes
Another common requirement of license reinstatement in most states is mandatory participation in a traffic school class. Drivers who complete a DUI course are generally expected to learn more about the negative influence of alcohol and drugs on driving and how to avoid committing such violations in the future. Motorists in New Mexico may be ordered to complete a treatment program as part of an NM DUI class, thus becoming eligible to reinstate their privilege to drive.
New Mexico Laws That Pertain to DUI/DWI
To avoid harsh New Mexico DUI penalties, drivers must stay in accordance with state DUI laws. Charges of drunk driving apply to those who are over 21 years old and are caught driving with a BAC of .08 percent or higher. Drivers under the legal drinking age will avoid getting an underage DUI in NM if they refrain from operating with a BAC of .02 percent or greater. Commercial drivers will also incur severe penalties, including a CDL disqualification, for a BAC at or above .04 percent. Finally, licensees will also be in violation of the Implied Consent Law if they fail to submit to chemical testing when requested by a law enforcement agent.
Note: The state of New Mexico has an open container law in the classic sense, meaning that no person in a vehicle should possess an open container of alcohol in the main area of the car. Any alcoholic beverages must be kept in a separate compartment, such as the trunk.
Hardship License in New Mexico
Motorists with a DWI conviction in New Mexico and a license revocation will only be able to obtain an ignition interlock license that allows them to drive to any location provided their vehicle is equipped with an IID. To request a hardship license while completing a DUI drivers license suspension period, drivers must submit an application form, proof of identity and financial responsibility and pay the applicable fees. To finalize the procedure, they must also prove they have installed an IID in each vehicle they plan to operate.