Drivers are charged with DWI, or driving while intoxicated, in New Mexico if their BA, or blood alcohol content, is greater than .08 percent. This BAC limit drops to .04 percent for operators of commercial vehicles and .02 percent for drivers under the age of 21. A DWI charge is also possible when a driver is under the influence of any amount of any controlled substance.
Since 2007, marijuana has been legal for some limited amount of medical use under Senate Bill 523, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. This act does not alter the existing traffic laws for medical marijuana patients, however.
New Mexico additionally has an “aggravated DWI” charge that occurs when the BAC is at or over .16 percent or if bodily injury is caused in the course of the incident resulting in the DWI. This charge adds an additional two mandatory days in jail for the first offense and more with each subsequent offense.
New Mexico DWI laws include an Implied Consent Act. This means that anyone accepting a driver’s license and operating a motor vehicle with it implies automatically that they give consent to alcohol and drug testing if a police officer determines there is probable cause. Drivers who refuse to take the test will have their license revoked. It takes 20 days for a revocation to go into effect, and administrative hearings to protest the revocation must be initiated within 10 days of the DWI stop. Refusing a test removes any possibility that your license will not be revoked later by the court. Drivers whose licenses have been revoked can only continue to drive with a restricted license that requires an ignition interlock device be placed on the vehicle.
DWI becomes a fourth degree felony under New Mexico DWI laws upon the driver’s fourth offense, regardless of how much time has elapsed since the previous charges. A fourth DWI carries harsh penalties: lifetime license revocation with appeal not allowed for five years, six months mandatory prison time (with up to 18 months possible), a fine of up to $5,000, an ignition interlock (if a restricted license is permitted) required for five years, and periodic alcohol evaluations and mandatory treatment. A fifth offense increases the mandatory prison sentence to one year. As of conviction of a sixth offense, the charge becomes a third degree felony with a mandatory 18 month prison sentence, and a seventh offense ups the mandatory minimum sentence to two years.
Recent Changes to New Mexico DWI Laws
A law that took effect in July of 2009 changed the requirements for drivers whose licenses were revoked to get their licenses reinstated. Drivers must now pay a $100 reinstatement fee, show that they have complied with any court-ordered ignition lock requirements and successfully complete their revocation period. Drivers must provide proof that they have not tampered with or circumvented the ignition interlock device in any way for a period of six months.
Legislation is currently being considered by the state senate that would prevent anyone who currently has an ignition interlock device on their vehicle from buying alcohol anywhere in the state.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In New Mexico?
Motorists in New Mexico are subject to a legal alcohol limit of .08 percent. Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above this level typically results in a person being charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). It is important to note that a DWI charge may be brought against a driver with a BAC below .08 percent if law enforcement can show a person was impaired to the slightest degree.
Also important to understand is that commercial vehicle operators and motorists under 21 must adhere to stricter BAC limits. Commercial drivers can be charged with DWI if a BAC is .04 percent or higher and motorists not of legal drinking age can be penalized for a BAC of .02 percent and greater.
DUI penalties may include:
- Jail time
- Loss of driving privileges
- Mandatory attendance in alcohol education courses
If a person is found guilty of driving while intoxicated, penalties issued will depend upon the circumstances of an arrest. A driver’s BAC level is typically a big factor. For instance, having a BAC of .16 percent can result in aggravated charges being filed and enhanced penalties upon conviction.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In New Mexico
Another penalty that typically results from a DWI conviction is mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). This device requires drivers to provide an acceptable breath test before the engine will turn over.
IID laws in New Mexico state:
- Individuals must have the device installed for any DWI conviction.
- A convicted individual is responsible for paying related costs.
- Failed breath tests recorded by an IID justify additional penalties.
While there are drawbacks to ignition interlock device use, most people convicted of DWI in New Mexico opt to have an IID installed in order to be able to drive after an offense.