DWI is take very seriously in New Mexico.  The penalties can be severe.  If you have been charged for a first time DWI in New Mexico, you probably have many questions.

The Albuquerque DWI Attorneys at Collins & Collins, P.C. are here to help those individuals charged with DWI in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and the surrounding areas.  Though we have tried to provide as much helpful information as possible, you probably many more not addressed here.


Feel free to call us or contact us online and we we do our best to assist you where we can.  In the meantime, we hope that the information here will help you to understand the DWI process in New Mexico.

Will You Go to Jail on a First Time DWI?

The first question most have is “Will I go to jail if I am convicted for my first time DWI?”   The answer to this is a little more complicated than one might think.

The short answer is that a first time DWI conviction does not carry jail time.  However,  there are a number of ways that a first time DWI conviction can ultimately lead to jail time.

New Mexico DWI First Offender Program

Though no jail time is called for on a simple first DWI conviction, a first conviction carries statutory minimum sentencing.  Judges may not deviate from the statutory minimums.

In simple first DWI cases, which are first time DWI with a blood alcohol level of below .16, there is no mandatory jail time.   However, there is the possibility of up to 90 days in jail for violations of the terms of probation if you are convicted.

Laws are Getting Tougher on DWI Offenders

Due to the many DWI/DUI related deaths that occur each year in New Mexico, there are many in the legislature and the Governor who are pushing for jail sentences even on a first time simple DWI.   As such, one should expect the penalties to grow more, not less, severe in the coming years.

Mandatory Sentencing on First Time DWI

For a first time DWI, the mandatory minimums include the following:

1.    DWI School,
2.    Victim Impact Panel,
3.    Screening for Alcohol and Drug Abuse,
4.    Alcohol or Drug Abuse Counseling and Treatment if recommended by probation.
5.    Random drug and alcohol testing if deemed necessary by probation,
6.    No consumption or possession of alcohol or illegal drugs,
7.    An ignition interlock device for one year,
8.    Minimum 24 hours of Community service,
9.    Payment of Court Costs, and
10.   Payment of probation costs.

These are not negotiable.  This means that the judge will not and cannot consider in sentencing your absence of a criminal history, your employment, your need to drive your vehicle without an ignition interlock, your family situation, your model citizenship in every other aspect of your life, or any other conditions.  These conditions are mandatory minimums.

Minimum Sentencing Does Not Preclude Stiffer Sentencing

Mandatory minimum means also that the judge can impose greater sentencing.  In fact, a first time simple DWI can face up to 90 days in jail.  However, as it stands, most courts throughout New Mexico routinely sentence first time simple DWI/DUI offenders to First Offender Program.

The First Offender Program carries the mandatory minimums with no jail time.  There are occasions when the judge’s will deviate upward from the minimums short of jail time.  These deviations might include greater community service burdens, more frequent contacts with probation, increased levels of counseling, and other conditions that the judge feels are necessary and appropriate for the particular situation.

Aggravated First Time DWI Carries Mandatory Jail Time

Though a simple first DWI/DUI carries no mandatory jail time, an aggravated first DWI/DUI carries a mandatory minimum of 48 hours jail time.  Depending on the severity of the DWI/DUI breath scores, there are judges that will order additional jail time beyond the minimum 48 hours.

Finally, violation of any of these conditions or other conditions set by the court as a condition of probation may result in a bench warrant and possible jail time up to the full 90 days.

Do Not Delay – Deadlines are Running!

There are a number of important deadlines in every DWI case, including a first DWI.  Missing a deadline can result in serious consequences.  It important to seek the assistance of an experienced DWI attorney as soon possible to avoid missing a deadline while also building the best possible defense to your DWI charges.

Aditional Reading on New Mexico DWI Issues from our DWI Blog