DWI with Minors
Experienced Attorneys Serving Belen, Santa Fe, Rio Rancho and all of New Mexico
For all persons under the age of 21 in the state of New Mexico, it is illegal to consume alcohol. Despite this, 26.3 percent of youth between the ages of 12 and 20 consume alcohol in a given month, and 18.3 percent admitted to binge alcohol use. Of the 34 traffic fatalities involving 15-20 year old drivers in one month, 24 were alcohol related. Clearly, impaired driving due to alcohol consumption is a problem not only for drivers over the age of 21, but for underage drivers as well.
There are only two cases in which it is legal in Albuquerque, New Mexico or any other city for a person underage to possess alcohol. First is if they are on private, non-alcohol selling property with the consent of a parent or guardian, and second is if they are having wine as a part of a religious ceremony. In any other case, it is illegal for a minor to purchase alcohol or have any alcohol in their possession.
For this reason, the laws for driving while impaired are much stricter for underage drivers than for those who are of legal drinking age. If a minor is pulled over for suspected intoxication, the allowable BAC limit is only 0.02. If a minor has had even one alcoholic beverage in the past hour or less, then it will most likely put their BAC over the legal limit and lead to their arrest.
If the driver is facing their first offense, then they face the possibilities of a 90-day imprisonment and a year revocation of their license. In other words, if a teenager’s BAC is greater than 2 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood, then he or she can face the same penalties as a 21-year-old first time offender with a BAC of 0.08. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, as well as in the rest of the state, driver’s licenses will almost certainly be revoked for a year if an underage driver fails or refuses to take a BAC test.
Underage offenders can also receive other charges besides driving under the influence, especially if they have passengers who are drunk. They might be charged with distributing alcohol to other minors, violating child endangerment laws, or violating moving and vehicle maintenance laws. If there is alcohol in the car, the driver can be charged as a minor for possession of alcohol and soliciting alcohol. If a fake ID was used to purchase the alcohol, then the offender could also be charged with possession of false identification.
Minors who are charged with alcohol violations, even while not operating a motor vehicle, could have their license or permit suspended or revoked for 90 days if they are under the age of 18. If they have not yet gotten a driver’s license or permit, then an alcohol violation such as underage possession or underage purchase could prevent them from getting their license.
When a minor gets a DUI or DWI, he or she will almost always see consequences on their insurance policy. The specific consequences depend upon the insurance agency and their policy towards underage DUIs, but some will terminate a policy completely. The majority of insurance agencies raise the amount of the monthly payments by up to $200 (or more in some cases). The policyholder will usually have to pay for the higher-risk plan for 3 to 5 years.
If you or someone you know is in legal trouble or facing charges because of an underage DUI, you will most likely need legal assistance to keep the penalties to a minimum. For more information about underage DUI laws and consequences, contact New Mexico Criminal Law Offices and speak with one of our experienced attorneys.