DWI FAQs from Trusted New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorneys
Experienced and Knowledgeable Legal Defense for DWIs in New Mexico
DWI (known as DUI in most states) is the crime of driving while intoxicated. New Mexico, like other states, imposes a variety of criminal penalties on drivers convicted of DWI. Significantly, although the traffic accident death rate is higher in New Mexico than for the nation as a whole, the rate of intoxicated driving is lower in New Mexico than it is in most of the rest of the nation.
New Mexico is currently in the midst of a statewide DWI crackdown. Penalties have been toughened, and enforcement has been stepped up. DWI offenders who violate the terms of their probation are no longer given “credit for time served” – if you violate your DWI probation after serving part of it, you will go to jail for the full probation period rather than only for the remaining portion.
Take Heart — New Mexico Prosecutors are Not Invincible
Being prosecuted for a crime can be a distressing and intimidating experience. It is important to remember, however, that you enjoy the presumption of innocence. To convict you, the prosecutor must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Despite a confident demeanor, prosecutors are often painfully aware of serious weaknesses in their case against a defendant.
Once we become familiar with your case, we will be aware of these weaknesses too, and we will focus on them to seek you deferred sentencing (resulting in eventual dismissal of charges), a plea bargain down to a “wet reckless” charge, or even secure a complete acquittal. At New Mexico Criminal Law Office, we play hardball for our clients.
Some of the most common questions and concerns we have been asked regarding DWI laws in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are listed below for the convenience of our clients:
What are the legal BAC limits?
In New Mexico, as in every state in the country, the legal limit for blood alcohol content is 0.08 in an adult over the age of 21. For drivers under the age of 21, the allowed BAC is only 0.02. Drivers with commercial licenses have to be more careful as well, as their legal limit is 0.04.
What happens if I don’t take a breathalyzer test?
Some drivers have a misconception that if they don’t take the breathalyzer test, they can get away with having a BAC over the legal limit because it wasn’t tested. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the rest of the state, a driver automatically consents to taking a test to determine the BAC.
This consent comes from New Mexico’s Implied Consent Law, which is in place to help police and traffic officials determine if a person is driving while impaired. If you refuse to take a BAC test, your license can be confiscated on the spot and revoked by the Motor Vehicle Division for up to one year. Furthermore, you can be charged with aggravated DWI, which carries heavier penalties than if you simply take the BAC test.
What is the difference between a regular DWI and an “aggravated DWI”?
An aggravated DWI generally involves one of three things: refusal to take a BAC test, dangerously high BAC levels, or injury to a second party. If a driver’s BAC is measured at .16, or double the legal limit, then they can be charged with aggravated DWI. A driver who refuses to take a BAC test can also be charged, due to New Mexico’s Implied Consent Law.
If a drunk driver causes injury or bodily harm to another person because of their intoxicated state, they will certainly be charged with aggravated DWI. In addition, they will possibly be facing a personal injury lawsuit.
What happens if this is my first DWI?
If you are being charged with your first offense of DWI, then the penalties will naturally be lighter than for repeat offenders. The punishment will depend upon the specific circumstances of your case, but the maximum allowable punishment for a first time offender is a fine, suspension of driver’s license for no more than 1 year, and possibly a short amount of jail time.
A more likely punishment is a fine and community service hours. Having an experienced attorney to help guide you through the process can decrease your time and punishment greatly.
What is an Ignition Interlocking Device?
Occasionally used for first offense cases, and employed often in second or third offense cases, this is a device that prevents drivers from operating their car while impaired from drinking. The device works in a similar manner to a breathalyzer in that it requires the driver to blow into it and tests the driver’s BAC.
If the BAC is at or above the legal limit, the car will not start and the driver will be unable to drive. Furthermore, the driver cannot get someone else to start the car for them and then proceed to drive while intoxicated. The ignition interlocking device requires that drivers repeatedly blow into it at regular intervals while driving to make sure there is no change in the BAC.
If the device registers a BAC above the legal limit while the car is in motion, it will alert the driver to safely stop the car and turn off the ignition. When this does not occur within a specified amount of time or the driver does not generate a legal BAC, the car will activate its alarms, horn, and emergency lights. The flashing and beeping will not stop until the car has come to a stop and been turned off.
For any other questions about DWIs in Albuquerque, New Mexico, contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices.
You Need Expert Representation
In 20 years of practice representing criminal defendants in New Mexico, we have mastered idiosyncrasies of the local legal system that can dramatically impact your chances as a defendant. The New Mexico criminal justice system can be characterized by the arcane complexity of its laws and procedural rules, and by the aggressive taken by its prosecutors – especially in DWI cases.
We’re reasonably sure that you wouldn’t attempt to perform surgery on yourself, and we can guess that you wouldn’t trust an inexperienced doctor either. Likewise, it is not a good idea to attempt to represent yourself or to hire an inexperienced lawyer. Criminal law is all we do, and DWI cases make up a significant portion of our workload. Let us put our 20 years of hands-on experience to work for you.
Now is Not the Time to Hesitate
When it comes to a New Mexico DWI charge, the sooner you retain a lawyer, the better your chances will be. As an unrepresented defendant, you could miss critical deadlines or you could find yourself in over your head too late for a lawyer to prepare the best defense for you. Retaining the right law firm at the right time could turn out to be the most important decision you make in your case.
If you have been charged with DWI anywhere in New Mexico, call us at 505-375-4765, or fill out our online contact form, so that we can schedule a free initial consultation on your case.