Drunk Driving Defense Laws in New Mexico

New Mexico has some of the highest rates of drunk driving and alcohol-related deaths in the country. The state has taken a strong stance against drunk driving and has one of the highest number of DUI arrests nationally. All branches of law enforcement have banded together in an attempt to lower the number of impaired drivers on the road. Law enforcement officers conduct sobriety checkpoints, do group patrols, issue field sobriety tests, use a mobile blood alcohol content (BAC) vehicle and conduct mobile surveillance.

Like most states New Mexico uses the BAC limit of 0.08 to determine who is in violation of drunk driving laws. Also like many states, the penalties for a DUI conviction can be steep.

If a driver fails the BAC test, the officer confiscates the driver's license immediately. For driver under the age of 21, the legal limit of 0.02, though just because an underage driver might pass the BAC test his or her license could still be in jeopardy since underage drinking is illegal. All drivers who are convicted of DUI face losing their licenses for a period of time, from several months to several years.

Probable Cause for a DUI Stop

New Mexico law enforcement officers spend time learning the patterns and actions of drivers who might be impaired. For officers that observe signs of impairment here are a few things that could cause an officer to pull a driver over:

  • Driving at night without headlights
  • Driving into oncoming traffic
  • Erratic or uneven braking
  • Ignoring turning lanes and going straight
  • Speeding
  • Stopping in the middle of the road for no reason
  • Tailgating
  • Weaving in and out of lanes

After pulling a driver over, the police officer will look for additional signs of impairment that align with what the officer has already witnessed. The officer will look for certain things such as an odor of alcohol on a driver's breath, the driver's overall appearance, if the driver's speech is slow, or labored or if the driver's face is flushed or red. If the police officer observes any of these signs, the officer can charge the driver with DUI.

Can I still drive after I was arrested for DWI in New Mexico?

If you timely requested a MVD Revocation hearing, you can drive until a decision is made by the MVD hearing officer at your MVD hearing, assuming your license was valid at the time of arrest.

An Expensive Mistake

A conviction for drunk driving has a serious impact on a person's life. A DUI on a driving record is an expensive mistake. Drivers will pay substantially more for car insurance, and could be required to carry a SR22 to prove financial responsibility. New Mexicans who desire to have their licenses reinstated, alcohol treatment programs, driving instruction classes and drug abuse counseling can all be a requirement for reinstatement. There could also be substantial fines and fees. For these reasons, people who feel they were wrongly accused should consider speaking to legal professionals. This person can help a driver design a strong defense against the charges. A legal professional will have experience challenging the legality of the officer pulling you over, and can thoroughly review the procedures the officers used to gather evidence such as the BAC test and call into question anything that seems out of the ordinary.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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