Second Offense DWI/DUI in New Mexico
The punishments for a second DUI in New Mexico are set forth in section 66-8-102(F) of the state’s statutes. These laws establish the criminal and administrative penalties for driving under the influence and allow the court to consider any prior DUI’s occurring anytime within the offender’s driving history.
The Look Back Period
A look back period is the length of time that a court can legally review a driver's history to determine if he has had any previous DUI's and, if so, treat them as prior offenses. New Mexico is unique from other states in that it does not have a look back period, but instead allows the court to consider any DUI's, regardless of how long ago they occurred.
The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) imposes penalties against second time DUI offenders. Because they are not imposed by a criminal court, they are administrative penalties. The DMV places an ignition interlock device on the vehicles of second time offenders.
A second time DUI offender in New Mexico must be imprisoned for no less than 96 hours and no longer than a year. If the prison term is suspended, the court can place the offender on probation for up to five years. The court can also order him to attend a 28 day residential and a 90 day outpatient treatment program and fine him from $500 to $1000.
There are different penalties for aggravated DUI, which occurs when a driver has a blood-alcohol level of .16% or higher, refuses to submit to chemical tests, or who causes another individual bodily harm as a result of driving while intoxicated. In this circumstance, the court can sentence the offender to at least 96 hours and no more than one year in prison, community service and treatment programs.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony
Like other states, New Mexico defines a misdemeanor as any crime that carries a punishment of no more than one year in prison. The state considers any crime with a potential punishment of more than a year in prison as a felony. Because second DUIs do not carry a prison term of longer than a year, they are misdemeanors.
In New Mexico, an offender can plead guilty and accept the terms of the court’s punishment without comment, or plead not guilty and take his case to trial. If convicted in a trial, the jury establishes the offender’s punishment, and there is very little the offender can do other than appeal them under a claim of illegality. Offenders in New Mexico will have a difficult time making a plea bargain and lowering penalties -- for example, reducing a DWI to what is often referred to as a "wet reckless" -- is prohibited in New Mexico.
The offender can also enter into a plea bargain. This is a negotiated document between the offender and the state’s prosecutor which contains terms agreeable to both. Often, these agreements have lesser criminal penalties.
Getting Legal Help
If you are facing a second DUI charge in New Mexico, seek the assistance of an attorney. A lawyer will discuss the state’s penalties for second time offenders and the possible punishments you face.