In New Mexico, a first offense for DWI is punishable with up to 90 days in jail, up to a $500 fine, or both, and about $200 in court costs. You also could be ordered to attend a first offender program also called DWI school, and alcohol screening with counseling, community service and to attend the victim impact panel and serve probation resulting in fees of about $150. If you’re arrested in New Mexico you should contact an attorney right away to protect your rights.
New Mexico DWI arrests trigger two separate cases: a criminal court case, and a Motor Vehicles Division case. New Mexico drunk driving criminal court cases can result in punishment that includes jail time, fines, mandatory DWI educational programs, ignition interlock devices, and more. New Mexico drunk driving Motor Vehicles Division cases can result in driver’s license suspensions from 90 days to one year or more.
New Mexico DWI cases can be prosecuted on one of two theories: either a violation of New Mexico’s per se law by driving with a blood or breath alcohol content of .08% or higher, or by driving while impaired. Impairment, for purposes of New Mexico drunk driving (DWI) laws, can be proved by driving patterns, field sobriety test performance, and chemical test results. A skilled DWI defense lawyer will know how to deal with each type of evidence in a New Mexico drunk driving case. Thankfully, someone accused of drunk driving (charged with DWI) in New Mexico has the right to a trial to defend himself in a court of law.
New Mexico drunk drivers have been targeted through a program called Operation DWI. In the past, Operation DWI activities, which were conducted 6 times each year, consisted of 75 to 100 sobriety checkpoints during a two-week period. Each two-week period was accompanied by an extensive pre and post-blitz public information campaign, including radio and television spots, public service announcements, and direct mailings. In addition, District Highway Engineers, in cooperation with the NM TSB, posted 250 roadside signs announcing the sobriety checkpoints. After each checkpoint was completed, NM TSB disseminated information on the impact of the high-visibility operations. Each of the saturation patrol activities has historically lasted about 10 days.
Penalties for DWI in New Mexico
- A first offense for DWI is punishable with up to 90 days in jail, up to a $500 fine, or both, and about $200 in court costs. You also may be ordered to attend a first offender program, also called DWI School, and alcohol screening with counseling; do community service; attend the victim impact panel, and serve probation resulting in fees of about $150. If this first drunk driving offense is an aggravated DWI, a minimum of 48 hours in jail is mandatory in addition to the other penalties. Aggravated DWI includes driving with an alcohol level of .16% or greater, causing bodily injury while DWI, or refusing to submit to a chemical test while DWI.
- A second DWI offense is punishable by three to 364 days in jail and a mandatory fine of $500 to $1000. It also requires about $250 in fees, probation, community service, and one-year license revocation. An aggravated second DWI offense requires at least seven days in jail.
- A third DWI offense is punishable by a mandatory 30 days in jail, and a fine of $750 to $1000 on top of the other penalties. Your license will be revoked for one to ten years if it’s your third drunk driving or DWI conviction or more within 10 years. An aggravated DWI third offense entails a 90-day mandatory jail sentence.
- A fourth DWI offense or more within 10 years is felonies, with the punishment of eighteen months in prison. In a felony conviction, you may also lose your citizenship rights such as voting, bearing arms, and other civil rights, for at least a period of time.
New Mexico’s Administrative License Suspension Laws
The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division has control over the Administrative Suspension case following a New Mexico DWI arrest.
The MVD civil hearing process is separate from the criminal court proceeding. You can win one case and lose the other. If you refuse to take a breath or blood test as requested by the officer (during the DWI stop), you may lose your license of one year and you cannot get a work permit or a limited license. If your license is revoked for the first time and you took a blood or breath test, you will lose your license for 90 days if you are 21 or older with a 0.08 or higher blood-alcohol result. If you are under 21, then you will lose your license for six months with a 0.02 or higher alcohol level. If you have previously had your license revoked for DWI through the MVD civil hearing and your alcohol level is above the legal limit, then you will lose your license for one year without the possibility of a work permit or a limited license. Your driver’s license can be revoked through a DWI criminal conviction or a DWI civil revocation (the MVD hearing), or if you are convicted of driving on a revoked license. If your license if revoked, you cannot drive. If you are caught driving, you will be arrested. If you are convicted in criminal court of driving on a revoked license, you will receive a sentence of seven days to one year in jail and a $300 to $1000 fine. You also will receive an additional one-year revocation of license, which starts when your current revocation ends, and your vehicle can be immobilized – impounded or locked in your driveway – for 30 days at your expense. When your revocation period is over, you must apply to MVD and pay $100 to reinstate your license, otherwise, you risk being arrested. A person who has three or more DWI convictions resulting in a five-or-10 year revocation needs an order from the state district court before MVD will reinstate his license.