Many factors play a role in clearing your record after a DWI conviction in New Mexico. This short guide can help you understand DWI, the penalties, and how long a DWI stays on your record.
Driving under the influence
It is illegal to drive a motorized vehicle while you are impaired by alcohol or drugs, which is often referred to as “DUI.” If you have consumed alcohol before operating a vehicle and a police officer stops you on suspicion of breaking the law, then, you could be arrested for driving under the influence, which is referred to as “DWI” in New Mexico.
DWI laws in New Mexico
As in all states, New Mexico has a legal limit when it comes to driving after consuming alcohol. You may be charged with DWI if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is found to meet or exceed one of the following limits:
- If you are 21 years of age or older, the legal limit for driving is a BAC of 0.08.
- If you are under the age of 21, the legal limit for driving is a BAC of 0.02.
- If you are driving a commercial vehicle and you are 21 years of age or older, the legal limit is a BAC of 0.04.
However, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law even if your BAC is found to be below the legal limit. You could still face a DWI conviction if there is evidence that you were driving impaired, including erratic driving, slurred speech, or difficulty walking.
DWI is a criminal offense, and even a first offense is a misdemeanor. In general, the penalties will depend on how many previous DWI convictions you have and the seriousness of your offense. For instance, you can be convicted of aggravated DWI in situations where your BAC was found to be .16 or above, you refused to take a chemical test to determine your BAC, or you were involved in a crash in which someone was injured.
If you are a first time offender, you will be required to complete 24 hours of community service, attend “DWI School,” and complete a drug or alcohol screening program. Your driver’s license will be revoked for up to one year, and you will need to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car to prevent you from driving after consuming alcohol. It is also possible that you will be sentenced to serve time in jail, pay a fine, or complete further community service hours. If you are convicted of aggravated DWI, serving time in jail is mandatory: at least 48 hours for your first offense.
The more times you are convicted of DWI, the greater the penalties that you will face. A fourth DWI conviction is a felony that is accompanied by a mandatory six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine, in addition to any other penalties imposed by the court. After a fourth conviction, your driver’s license will be revoked for life, although the court may review the revocation every five years if you have no further DWI convictions.
As you can see, New Mexico courts want drivers to face their punishments and rehabilitate. However, the more offenses you have, the less the court will focus on rehabilitation and the more it will work to keep you off the road.
Impact of DWI on your record
Whether your DWI offense is a misdemeanor or a felony, your conviction can have a number of negative consequences in addition to the court-mandated penalties.
A conviction for DWI will stay on your driving record for 55 years. Once the conviction is on your record, it is viewable by car insurance companies, and you can expect your rate to go up significantly. Moreover, no matter how frustrated you become by your high rates, you will find it very difficult to have your rates reduced: in other circumstances, you might just switch insurers, but as a “high-risk” driver you will struggle to find another company to ensure you at a better rate.
Your conviction will also go on your criminal record, and in most cases, it will remain on your record for life. Any entity that completes a background check on you, including an employer, may see the conviction. You might lose out on a job, have trouble obtaining a mortgage, or worse, depending on who is looking at your record.
Can you remove a DWI offense from your record?
Due to the negative effects of a DWI offense on your record, it is not unreasonable that you would want to have this charge removed, especially if a significant amount of time has passed since your conviction. Once you have been convicted of DWI, you may never be able to leave it completely behind you.
Whether you are currently facing DWI charges, or you have concerns about a previous DWI conviction on your record, look no further than Shaharazad McDowell Booth Law. Our experienced attorneys are here to assist you, so contact us today for an initial consultation.