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Home to the original chill

This one goes out to you, New Mexicans – you guys are official inhabitants of one of the hands-down chilliest places in these United States. To those of you have never been, trust us: It’s just not another one of those square states out west. In fact, it’s the opposite of square. It’s got enough diverse landscape and beautiful scenery to take in to please even the most uptight nature lovers. It produces a hell of a lot of good wine. It gave us Smokey the Bear, forever placing due – if not somewhat intimidating – levels of responsibility on those of us hoping to enjoy a therapeutic night of camping and living off the land. Y’all, they even host the world’s largest hot air balloon festival.

Not-always-so-chill are the state’s laws regulating drunk drivers, because – let’s be honest – drinking and driving is one of the least chill things one can possibly do. Taste-testing glass after glass of lovely, aged wines, paired perfectly with an amalgam of genuine southwestern cuisine? Not the worst thing in the world. But keep it on the damn couch! As you’ll see, there is a very fine line between casually coasting to the store (because, believe me guys, I’m straight) and falling prey to the heavy hand of justice…and the latter isn’t very fun.


Busted!… Now what?

If you’ve gotten caught drinking and driving in the state of New Mexico – that is, driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or greater – you probably already know the first thing to expect. Yep, you guessed it. Failing a field sobriety test or refusing a breathalyzer test altogether will result in the automatic forfeiture of your license. Basically, if you’re stopped and you really should not be driving, you can bet that you aren’t getting out of that situation the same way you got in. And you aren’t just at risk of receiving a DWI charge when it comes to messing around with alcohol; you may also be arrested for driving under the influence of illegal or legally prescribed drugs. If it doesn’t normally go into the body of a high-functioning human being, don’t use it while driving a car. Simple as that.

Let’s say you’re busted. Not just under a little investigation…you know you’re busted. Almost-hit-a-tree, blew-a-0.2, sitting-on-the-sidewalk busted. The arresting officer is first going to inform the NM Motor Vehicle Division and inform them of the issue at hand; since they’re the ones who issued you your license to begin with, they’re the ones who will instantaneously revoke it and determine how long you’ll be without it – court proceedings aside. They cannot revoke it for more than a year. But let’s be real. A year is a long fucking time! Luckily, there is a small window of time during which you may appeal said revocation and request a hearing. This must be done within 10 days of the original arrest. Otherwise, that’s it. You’ll have to adhere to the ascribed revocation period – or else. No seriously, driving with a revoked license is really bad and you should never do it unless you actually do have a legal death wish.


But wait! I have rights!!!

“But wait!” you might say before we move on to the next section. “Why would I lose my license for just refusing a chemical test? Isn’t that within my rights?” Actually, no. If you chose to legally drive in New Mexico (or pretty much anywhere else, for that matter) you acknowledge that it is illegal to drive while intoxicated under the NM Implied Consent act, and therefore give your consent to be tested if you are under suspicion. In addition, if you are later convicted of drinking and driving, a refused chemical test then falls under the qualifying criteria which escalate a regular DWI charge to an aggravated DWI, which as you can assume is associated with all sorts of nastier penalties including a mandatory jail period, even if it’s your first offense. When you think about it logically, it’s hard to see a refusal as anything but an admission of guilt when you’ve got the observations of the arresting officer stacked against you in a court of law. So unless you’ve got a really good reason…maybe don’t do it.


Three strikes…

In the state of New Mexico, a first-time DWI offense isn’t the absolute worst thing in the world. Yes, it’s still going on your record. Yes, there’s still the potential of jail time. But comparatively, it isn’t the end-all and be-all. If you figure out your shit and remember to just not drive drunk in the future. “But for how long?” you might ask. “Surely there will come a time when I get a fresh, clean slate and get to be considered a first-time offender again.” Again, the answer is, unfortunately, no. In NM there is no such thing as a lookback period in the land of DWIs. Therefore, severity of punishments do escalate upon repeat offenses, but more often the most severe consequences occur when the crime is, you know, severe. We’re talking repeat offenders, anyone who drives drunk with children in the car, anyone with an extra-high BAC…you know, people who probably are better off taking the bus from now on.

Specific penalties can be far-reaching and complicated, and every crime is a little bit different, so it’s difficult to provide a definitive list of what will or won’t necessarily happen. So for now we’ll stick to generalities. If you learn anything from it, just remember one thing: A fourth-offense DWI charge is a felony.

  • First offense:
    • Up to 90 days in jail – but no mandatory minimum.
    • License revocation for a minimum of six months and up to one year.
    • A $500 fine.
    • Mandatory enrollment in DWI school and an alcohol abuse screening.
    • 24 hours of community service.
    • The installation (and upkeep) of an ignition interlock device (an IID) in your vehicle for one full year.
  • Second offense:
    • A minimum of 96 hours in jail and a maximum of one year.
    • License revocation for two full years.
    • A fine ranging from $500-1,000.
    • Mandatory enrollment in DWI school and an alcohol abuse screening.
    • 48 hours of community service.
    • The installation (and upkeep) of an IID for two full years.
    • Up to five years’ probation.
  • Third offense:
    • A minimum of 30 days in jail and a maximum of one year.
    • License revocation for three years.
    • A fine ranging from $750-5,000.
    • Mandatory enrollment in DWI school and an alcohol abuse screening.
    • 96 hours of community service.
    • The installation (and upkeep) of an IID for three full years.
    • Up to five years’ probation.

As previously stated, any number of DWI arrests occurring after one’s third conviction is considered a felony offense. Rather than go into the details right here (trust us, they’re agonizing), just know that these sorts of convictions spell seriously bad news – bad for your wallet, bad for your reputation, bad for your day-to-day life functions…just bad all around. Think prison sentences, fines in the thousands, and court reviews associated with any ongoing sorts of consequences, like IID maintenance and license revocation. In other words, no one will trust you ever again. Don’t drink and drive, kids!


DWI in New Mexico? Experienced help counts

So far, so good – you’re on BernieSez, and that means you’re leaps and bounds ahead of the next sucker with a DWI charge. What are you waiting for? Our site is loaded with good connections with local attorneys who want to get you the best deal out of whatever sentencing is to come. Having a reputable attorney on your side can be very helpful in determining all the possible outcomes associated with your particular case – and in examining the events which led up to your arrest. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you need a little help! So hop on our discussion boards today, post your questions, and do whatever it takes to ensure you have an expert on your side. Getting in trouble with the law can undoubtedly be a nasty business – but no one ever said you have to do it alone.

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