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Don’t Worry, Your Interlock Device Isn’t Forever

If your driver’s license is revoked for driving under the influence, known as DWI in New Mexico, you can expect to have an instrument called an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your car. Successfully using your ignition interlock device is important to regaining your license at the end of the revocation period, so read more to find out what it is, how it works, and how you can make your time with an IID as painless as possible.

DWI penalties in New Mexico

Drunk driving endangers lives, including your own, so there are steep penalties in place if you violate New Mexico’s DWI laws. In addition to possible consequences like jail time and a fine of up to $500, mandatory penalties for a first offense include 24 hours of community service, “DWI School,” and an alcohol or drug screening program. The penalty that will probably affect you the most, though, is the revocation of your driver’s license.  

There are actually two ways that you can get your license revoked following arrest for DWI.  The first is by failing or refusing to take the breath or blood test that is administered by the arresting officer to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).  In that case, your license will be confiscated immediately by the officer, and the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) will then revoke your license. Your license will also be revoked if you are convicted of a DWI offense in a judicial court. In either case, you can expect to lose your license for up to one year for a first offense, and even longer if you are a repeat offender. It is, in fact, possible to have your license revoked twice: once by the arresting officer, and a second time for DWI conviction. However, the license revocations run concurrently, so if you receive two one-year revocations, they will only last for one year.

If your driver’s license is revoked for DWI, you can only drive with an ignition interlock license and an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle. The ignition interlock device will prevent you from driving after you have consumed alcohol.

What’s the process for getting an ignition interlock device?

You will need to have an ignition interlock device installed by an approved provider.  You will most likely be responsible for having the device installed and paying for all associated costs, as well as the cost of your ignition interlock license.

Once the IID is installed on your vehicle, you can obtain your ignition interlock license from MVD. You will need to take a copy of your current contract with the ignition interlock provider and proof that you are insured to drive that vehicle to the MVD office.  You will also need to submit a notarized Ignition Interlock Affidavit, which can be obtained from the MVD.

How does an ignition interlock device work?

An ignition interlock device (IID) is essentially a breathalyzer machine that prevents you from starting your car if you have been drinking alcohol. The device operates by measuring your blood alcohol concentration prior to starting the car. If there is alcohol in your system when you take the breath test, then the ignition interlock device will prevent your car from starting.

Most ignition interlock devices also require you to provide “rolling retests” while driving. During a rolling retest, a signal will go off on your IID, and you will need to provide a fresh breath test while you are driving. If you do not provide a breath test within a certain period of time, or if the device detects alcohol on your breath during the test, then it will trigger an alarm or your car horn to get you to turn off the vehicle. An IID will not automatically turn off your car if you fail a breath test; however, it might save information about the test, which will have consequences when you attempt to have your license reinstated at the end of your license revocation period.

How long will I have my interlock device?

The license revocation period depends on a number of factors, including whether your license was revoked for failing/refusing to take a breath or blood test upon arrest, whether it was revoked upon conviction for DWI, or both. If you are a first-time offender, over the age of 21, and only had your license revoked for failing the breath or blood test, your driver’s license may only be revoked for six months. If you refused to take the breath or blood test, if you are under the age of 21, or if you are convicted of DWI in a criminal court, your license will be revoked for one year following a first offense. Revocation periods increase for repeat offenders, up to lifetime revocation for four or more DWI convictions.   

You can apply to have your license reinstated at the end of the revocation period.  When applying for reinstatement, your interlock ignition device will be inspected to see if it has been tampered with, or if you have made any attempts to circumvent the device.  Having an IID may be unavoidable after a license revocation for DWI, but complying with all court-ordered requirements, properly maintaining the device, and only driving while sober can help you get your driver’s license back as soon as possible.

Get legal help!

If you have been charged with DWI, do not face court proceedings on your own. Contact Shaharazad McDowell Booth Law to talk to a knowledgeable DWI attorney who can provide the assistance you need for your case. Call today to schedule a consultation.