What is a DUI in New Mexico?
The state of New Mexico defines a DUI as operating or being in physical control of a vehicle within state limits while under the influence of intoxicating substances or alcohol. Unlike most states, the length of time that must pass—as measured by alcohol concentration levels, drug metabolites, or some other reasonable indicator—before someone is presumed to be operating a vehicle with no impairment is not set under New Mexico law.
Motorists operating vehicles within the state's judicial district are deemed to have given their consent to sobriety testing if there is probable cause for arrest. Motorists are not required to submit to chemical testing under this provision, but implied consent laws mean that refusal to take a chemical test carries penalties.
The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division and the state's courts monitor and penalize offending motorists within state limits. DUI offenses may be featured in an offender's New Mexico criminal record depending on the offender's driving history and the severity of the crime.
What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in New Mexico?
A motorist is charged with a DUI/DWI in the US when found operating a car or motorized vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. However, In New Mexico, a "Driving under the influence" (DUI) charge is not as severe as a DWI. A DUI charge only means that the motorist was found driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, while a DWI implies that their blood alcohol content (BAC) was found to be 0.08% or more.
The difference lies in how much the offender drank and whether their BAC exceeded the legal limit of .08%. Under New Mexico's DUI laws, if a person is under 21 years old, they cannot have any alcohol while driving. However, persons 21 can be charged with a DUI if their BAC reaches .05%, the lowest limit in the United States for adult drivers of non-commercial vehicles.
New Mexico DUI Laws
New Mexico DUI laws are outlined in NM Stat § 66-8-102 of the state revised statutes. According to the statute:
- It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher
- Motorists under 21 years old cannot drive if their BAC is 0.02% or higher
- It is also illegal to drive with any detectable amount of certain controlled substances in your system.
Under New Mexico DUI laws, if an officer observes a motorist showing apparent signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech or smelling of alcohol, the officer may ask that person to take a series of field sobriety tests. The motorist may request a breath test instead.
There are three types of breath testing devices used in New Mexico:
- Preliminary alcohol screening devices (PAS)
- Evidential breath testing machines (EBT)
- Handheld evidential breath testing devices (H-EBT)
The police officer administers the aforementioned tests at the scene of the arrest. If there are no signs indicating intoxication, the motorist can refuse to perform these tests without penalty.
Underage drivers can have their license suspended if they are arrested for a DUI or other alcohol-related offense.
The state statutes also outline New Mexico DUI severity and penalties. When it comes to driving under the influence, there are two categories; misdemeanors and felonies. The severity of the DUI determines the penalties. For example, if injuries or fatalities have occurred due to the DUI, motorists are bound to face severe penalties.
Misdemeanors: Generally, misdemeanor charges are punishable with up to one-year imprisonment and fines of $500-$5,000; three months' community service is also possible. Motorists who commit multiple offenses face an increased penalty. Offenders who are charged with a DUI within 36 months of the first conviction pay double the amount of the designated fines.
Felonies: If a motorist is convicted of driving under the influence twice or more in five years, their driver's license will be revoked for multiple offenses. Penalties include up to 18 months in jail, and the offender may lose their license for life. The judge must also impose a fine of $1,000-$10,000, depending on the conviction (DUI/alcohol, DUI/drugs, or both) and whether there were previous offenses.
DUI Penalties in New Mexico
According to New Mexico statutes, the penalties for DUI in New Mexico include jail time, fines, and probationary sentences.
However, fines, jail time, and driving privileges suspension will increase with each additional conviction.
For all DUI convictions in New Mexico, an interlock device must be installed when the violator's driving privileges are reinstated. However, an exception is granted for first-time offenders whose driving privileges are already suspended when arrested for DUI again due to a separate incident.
What Happens When You Get a DWI in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, what constitutes driving while intoxicated (DWI) is if 'at the time of driving any alcohol has been absorbed into that person's blood.' If a driver has a blood alcohol concentration level of .08, they are guilty of driving while intoxicated.
First-time offenders usually face jail time, a fine, and suspension of their driver's license. If there is a child under the age of 18 in the vehicle at the time of driving, the penalties can include imprisonment. Furthermore, if this person has been found guilty of DWI twice or more times in the last ten years, their penalty increases even further with prison time.
What Happens When You Get a DUI for the First Time in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, a first DUI is a misdemeanor charge with imprisonment of up to 90 days and a fine of between $100 and $500. In addition to the possibility of jail time, those convicted will have their driving privileges suspended for at least seven months. Still, they can apply for a restricted license after only 90 days.
What is the Penalty for a Second DUI in New Mexico?
A second DUI in New Mexico is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for 90 days to six months and a fine of between $500 and $1,000. In addition to the possibility of jail time, those convicted will have their driving privileges suspended for 18 months with no option for a restricted license after only seven months.
What Happens After a Third DUI in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, a third DUI is a fourth-degree felony. The fine increases to $1,000 and $5,000, and the possible prison sentence is 364 days. Those convicted will have their driving privileges suspended for 36 months and be required to complete an alcohol education program before receiving a restricted license after two years.
A fourth DUI is a third-degree felony punishable by up to three years of imprisonment. The fine increases to between $5,000 and $10,000. Those convicted will have their driving privileges suspended for 36 months with no option of a restricted license after only six months.
A fifth or subsequent DUI is a second-degree felony punishable by up to nine years of imprisonment. The fine increases to between $5,000 and $10,000. Those convicted will have their driving privileges suspended for 36 months with no option of a restricted license after only one year.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in New Mexico?
As with all traffic violations, it is the policy of the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division to record all convictions for a Driving Under the Influence violation on a driver's license history indefinitely. However, per New Mexico statutes, a DUI will remain on your license record for a minimum of five years from the date the arrest was made or the ticket was issued.
DUI Expungement in New Mexico
Motorists can expunge a DUI charge in New Mexico if the following two conditions are met:
- They were not convicted of a felony or misdemeanor—or probation for a felony
- The conviction was at least three years old, and they had not been arrested since then.
- If the motorist was found guilty but not convicted or pleaded guilty to a lesser offense.
New Mexico does not have an official procedure for expungement. Hence, an order from a judge that says "expungement" is just as good as an order specifically stating the motorist can expunge a DUI.
However, there are some exceptions. Motorists cannot have their criminal records expunged if:
- They were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in New Mexico—or probation for a felony, no matter how long ago it was
- The conviction was in another state and violated New Mexico law
- They were convicted of a federal felony
- The conviction is for an offense against the United States
- The sentence is from a military court
- They are currently charged with a crime, whether it's been filed or not.
- The conviction was reversed and dismissed, and you were later convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in New Mexico—or probation for a felony
- The motorist is currently charged with a crime, whether it's been filed or not, and the charge is for a misdemeanor or felony in New Mexico
- They were convicted of battery against a household member
- They were convicted of a sex crime involving a child
- They were convicted of tampering with evidence, perjury, bribery, or obstruction of justice
Eligible motorists can expunge a New Mexico DUI by filing an expungement request. To do so, they will need to:
- Prepare a petition for expungement.
- File certified copy of the conviction
- File an affidavit of proof of service (which shows you sent copies of the petition to everyone on your notification list)
- A check for the designated amount made payable to the "State Treasurer".
The requestor will also need to file the petition with the court in which you were charged. There are courts in each of New Mexico's 33 counties. If the motorist can't figure out where their case was filed, they may call the court clerk in whichever county the arrest occurred.
The requesting party will also need to serve copies of the petition on the district attorney's office and the officer who arrested them within ten days of filing.
How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in New Mexico?
Jail time after a first DUI in New Mexico is not very likely. In 2003, New Mexico passed SB 391, which amends 22-37-7 NMSA 1978, offering a new sentencing option for first-time offenders (those without other convictions such as DWI or DUI).
Under this law, the court may order probation instead of jail while imposing up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of not more than $1000.
Probation may be ordered for a term of up to five years but can be extended "as deemed necessary by the court". The judge may also order alcohol screening, education, treatment, and community service.
When determining whether jail time is appropriate, the judge must consider "the extent and nature of the defendant's criminal record, his or her driving record and whether he or she is a danger to others".
The court may require as a condition of probation that the defendant pays restitution to persons with injury due to the DUI.
What is the Average Cost of DUI in New Mexico?
The average cost of a DUI in New Mexico varies depending on court costs and associated fees. Fines are determined by the motorist's charge, but the minimum fine is $100. First offense DUIs are also subject to $500 in community restitution fees that get paid directly to the court every month for three years, along with an additional $25 fee that goes into a fund for victims of crime. There's also an alcohol-abuse assessment fee of $250, and if the motorist chooses to get their license back after a revocation, they'll be shelling out another $100.
The offenders' auto insurance rates will also take a hit, at least initially. The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division will likely suspend the offender's license for six months. It can take up to three years before they are eligible for a restricted or conditional license that will allow you to drive during business hours.
If it is the motorist's second DUI conviction within ten years, they can expect fines of $400 to $1,000 and jail time of up to 90 days. Their license will be revoked for a year, and they'll have to pay $500 for an alcohol-abuse assessment and another $100 to get your limited or conditional permit.
Third offense convictions can result in fines of $1,000 or more along with up to a year in jail. The offender's license will be revoked for two years, they will have to undergo another alcohol-abuse assessment, and they will pay $1,000 in fines plus court costs.
How Much is Bail for a DUI in New Mexico?
The exact price an offender will pay for their New Mexico DUI Bail depends on several factors such as:
- Whether this is their first offense (if they have been convicted of a previous DUI)
- Where the offender lives (in some cities and towns, the cost is higher than in others)
- The offender's personal finances
The total amount of a New Mexico DUI Bail can vary from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands.
The cost of a New Mexico DUI bail will go up depending on the situation. For instance, if the police arrest somebody for a DUI and they're taken to Santa Fe County Detention Center, then their bail will be set at $1,000 in most cases. On the other hand, if somebody is convicted of a New Mexico DUI and within the next year they are arrested again, then the judge will take that into account when setting bail. If the offender's blood alcohol content is extremely high at the time of arrest or if the DUI resulted in an accident or incident requiring hospitalization—then the bail may be up to $5,000.
How to Get My License Back After a DUI in New Mexico?
The length of time a motorist's license will be suspended after a DUI conviction in New Mexico depends on whether they have previous DUI convictions. If it is their first conviction, their license will be suspended for 90 days to one year, depending on if it is their first offense and the blood-alcohol level detected when they were stopped by law enforcement.
If the motorist has been convicted of a DUI in New Mexico in the past, their license will be suspended for one year to three years depending on their (BAC).
Even if the offender's license is not suspended or revoked due to a DUI conviction, they may still face a separate one-year revocation from the Department of Taxation and Revenue for refusing to take a blood-alcohol test when stopped by law enforcement.
To get a New Mexico driver's license reinstated after it has been revoked for a DUI, the offender can follow the steps outlined:
- Make an appointment with the Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- Complete all the necessary forms and pass the required tests
- Pay fees to DPS, $50 reinstatement fee, and a $25 license fee
- Pay any expenses due to the New Mexico court where you were convicted or pay off your fines
- Complete an alcohol/drug evaluation with a qualified counselor
- Get your New Mexico driver's license reinstated by DPS, which may take up to 30 days after you finish all of the required steps for reinstatement.
Offenders can obtain an occupational driver's license if their revocation was for 90 days or more and they are not eligible for reinstatement.
How Does a DUI Affect Your Life in New Mexico?
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious crime that is bound to change the offender's life as they know it. In New Mexico, if a person is charged with a DUI, they face jail time and license suspension for at least 90 days. Motorists can lose their license for one year or more in some cases. When convicted of a DUI, the offender's insurance rates will likely increase substantially. They are also likely to pay substantial amounts to cover attorney's fees and related court courts.
Can You Get Fired for a DUI in New Mexico?
New Mexico is one of the few states that does not attach automatic loss of employment to a DUI conviction. However, motorists may still face termination if their job involves public safety or transportation.
Employers may not fire DUI offenders on account of their arrest alone. Instead, they must prove that the offender's job performance was adversely affected by the DUI.
Public employees (police officers, firefighters) face the highest risk of termination after getting a New Mexico DUI. Private sector workers face less of a chance for termination. For example, an employee at a school or daycare facility is unlikely to be terminated after a first-time DUI, as long as the incident didn't involve children.
How Do I Find DUI Checkpoints in New Mexico?
Interested persons may find New Mexico DUI checkpoints using third-party service providers that provide alerts for checkpoints set up within a few miles of the user's location.
Since checkpoints are set up in different locations across the state, the information regarding these checkpoints are consistently changing however they are often set up around midnight. All drivers in New Mexico are required to submit their breath samples for blood alcohol content tests if the police have pulled them over. This is because New Mexico has zero-tolerance laws regarding drinking and driving. Failing a sobriety test will get you arrested on suspicion of a DUI.
Which is Worse, DUI or DWI?
While both New Mexico DUI and DWI are severe offenses with long-term consequences, penalties for a New Mexico DUI or DWI depend on whether you have prior criminal convictions related to driving under the influence.
The New Mexico DUI charge generally applies when a driver has any measurable amount of alcohol in their system while driving or physically controlling a motor vehicle. The penalties for a New Mexico DWI are more severe than DUI charges, especially if the suspect has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.