DWI with Minors
Compassionate Defense for Minors Charged with DWI Serving Albequerque and all 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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are some defenses against DWI?
There are many possible defenses against a DWI charge in New Mexico. Some of the most common are:
- The officer lacked probable cause to pull you over.
- The officer improperly administered the breathalyzer test.
- You have a medical condition that misleadingly inflated your BAC.
Am I safe to drive with a BAC of 0.01?
It depends. If you are under the influence of another intoxicant at the same time, such as marijuana, you might still be charged with DWI. Remember also that if you recently drank alcohol, your BAC could rise between the time you start your car and the time you are pulled over.
How much marijuana must be in my system for me to be charged with a marijuana DUI?
Any measurable amount of marijuana in your system at all can get you arrested for DWI. This standard is the same for adults as for minors. You will likely be given a blood test to detect the presence of marijuana.
What is New Mexico’s “lookback period”?
There is no lookback period in New Mexico. This means that if you are convicted of DWI as a minor, it will be considered a second offense if you are convicted of another DWI even 50 years later. This harsh standard is one more good reason to avoid a DWI conviction.
How many drinks does it take to get to a BAC of .02?
Your BAC depends on many factors including how much you weigh, whether you are male or female, how much you have had to drink, whether you drank on an empty stomach, how long it has been since you drank, and other factors. Even one beer is probably enough to bring your BAC to 0.02.
What is deferred sentencing?
Deferred sentencing is the next best outcome to an acquittal. You must plead guilty or no contest, meet certain subsequent conditions imposed by the court, and ultimately your charges will be dismissed so you can keep your record clean. Deferred sentencing is usually granted only to first-time DWI offenders. It still counts as a prior for a subsequent DWI, however.
Can I beat a marijuana DUI charge by proving that I was using marijuana for medical purposes?
No. Driving while under the influence of medical marijuana is treated like driving under the influence of a legal prescription drug. As long as you had reason to believe you would become intoxicated, you will be treated like any other DWI offender.
What are the biggest mistakes I can make in a DWI case?
The most common mistakes you are likely to make as a DWI defendant are:
- Attempting to represent yourself;
- Pleading guilty “just to get it over with”; and
- Confessing just to “get it off your chest”.
Making any of these mistakes could lead to an unfairly harsh result.
What is the “mouth alcohol” defense?
A mouth alcohol defense arises if the level of alcohol in your mouth when you took the breathalyzer test misrepresented the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. This might happen, for example, if you used mouthwash recently, or if you have certain medical conditions.
Contact us today
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.