Will I Lose My License for a DWI in New Mexico?

Understand the penalties for driving while intoxicated in New Mexico

By Super Lawyers staff | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on June 29, 2023

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According to New Mexico’s Motor Vehicle Department (MVD), alcohol is involved in approximately 40 percent of fatal traffic incidents.

In the state of New Mexico, like the rest of the country, it’s illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol.

New Mexico’s DWI Laws

You can be charged with a DWI (driving while intoxicated) if:

  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over the legal limit.
    • For drivers over 21 years of age, the legal limit is 0.08.
    • For drivers under the age of 21, the legal limit is 0.02.
    • For commercial drivers, the legal limit is 0.04.
  • Your BAC was under the legal limit, but your ability to drive was impaired by alcohol or drugs

Drivers who are impaired, whose blood alcohol content is above the legal limit, or who refuse to take a blood test or breath test face loss of driving privileges for up to a year, along with other penalties.

People always ask me whether they should refuse to take the breath test or not. It depends on how well you did on the field sobriety test.

Should You Refuse a Breath Test in New Mexico?

Like other states, New Mexico has an implied consent act that says people who drive in the state consent to testing if stopped by a law enforcement officer who has reasonable suspicion that they are under the influence.

The police officer can request that the driver take a breath test or chemical test to measure their blood alcohol level to see if they are over the legal limit.

“People always ask me whether they should refuse to take the breath test or not,” says David C. Serna, a former criminal defense attorney in Albuquerque.

“It depends on how well you did on the field sobriety test. If you didn’t do bad at all—and if whatever you got pulled over for wasn’t that egregious—then, they don’t have [to take] a breath test on you. If you’ve done horribly on the field sobriety test, you’re probably better off taking the test in the hopes that you’re under the .08.”

“If you refuse to take the test, it goes from a six-month license suspension to a one-year suspension,” Serna says. “In criminal court, if you refuse and get convicted, you’re looking at a mandatory 48 hours in jail. If you had taken the test and blown under a .08, you wouldn’t be looking at any jail time at all as a first offender.”

Penalties for DUI Convictions

New Mexico drivers who are found guilty of driving while intoxicated (DWI) could be sentenced to jail time, community service, or ordered to pay hefty fines and court costs (New Mexico Statutes § 66-8-102).

First-time offenders are also required to attend treatment programs and install an ignition interlock devices (IID) on their vehicles.

Simply getting arrested for DUI is enough to result in confiscation of one’s driver’s license if the driver’s test was at or above the legal limit or the driver refused to take the test.

Once the license has been confiscated, the Motor Vehicle Division is notified and can officially revoke the license for up to one year. This action is known as an administrative license revocation; it’s separate from a person’s DWI case. Those who are convicted of a DWI in court can also have their licenses revoked through a court order.

Get an Experienced New Mexico DUI Defense Lawyer

If you are facing DWI charges, consider reaching out to an experienced New Mexico DUI/DWI attorney as soon as possible for legal advice and guidance.

If you’d like more general information about this area of the law, see our DUI/DWI law overview.

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