The holiday season comes with a lot of celebration. Much of it includes alcohol. It also includes bouncing from one get together to the next, whether it be with friends, family, work or business associates.
This means there are numerous temptations to drive after having consumed alcohol. It goes without saying that this is bad idea. It is never a good idea to drink and drive, but in terms of possible DWI charges, the holiday season is perhaps the worst due to the huge emphasis placed on DWI by New Mexico law enforcement during the holiday. This is particularly so in Albuquerque.
Here are few things to keep in mind before you hit the road and the party circuit this holiday season. If you do you end up slipping and getting arrested for DWI, hire an attorney right away. There are a number of early deadlines in these cases that must be met to fully protect your rights. Collins & Collins, P.C. can guide you through the process. Give us a call at (505)242-5958.
.08 is Not the Measure of DWI in New Mexico
New Mexico courts follow an “impaired to the slightest degree” standard. In other words, .08 is not the rule in New Mexico DWI cases.
Perhaps more important than any other fact that you should know about DWI in New Mexico is that the well known .08 breath alcohol limit is not the standard. Instead, New Mexico follows an “impaired to the slightest degree standard.”
What does impaired to the slightest degree mean? It means that you are getting arrested if you have been drinking at all and the cop is of a mind to arrest you. It means there really is no standard other than what the individual officer wants to impose at the time.
This is not an exaggeration. Drivers are charged routinely, particularly in Albuquerque, at breath alcohol levels below, sometimes well below, the .08 standard.
Refusing the Breath Test Results in Aggravated DWI Charges and Automatic Revocation of Your Driver’s License
Yes, you have the right to refuse the breath test but you might want to think it through before you do.
This is always a hard one to explain. Most people who have no legal experience with DWI believe that it is their right to refuse a breath alcohol test. They may believe this is to their advantage in case criminal charges are filed. They are partly right on both counts but there is much more to it.
Yes, you have a right to refuse the breath test. And yes there may be advantages later at trial if there is no breath score. On the other hand, refusal has serious consequences and the benefits for refusal may be purely illusory.
Refusal means automatic aggravated DWI charges. Conviction for aggravated DWI carries mandatory jail time.
Refusal means automatic revocation of your driver’s license under the Implied Consent Act. In case there is a breath test, your license is revoked only if you blow over .08. Even if the officer chooses to arrest you under the aforementioned impaired to the slightest degree standard, your license will not be revoked at a breath alcohol measure below .08.
Child Passengers Mean Felony DWI Charges
DWI with child passengers = felony charges. Child passengers = children under 18 years of age.
This is a big one. The car is often loaded with kids as you go from one get together to the next. The safety of the children should be sufficient argument alone for avoiding driving under the influence.
However, if the children’s safety is not enough, you should understand that DWI with children in the care can and do result in a number of felony charges related to child abuse and neglect.
DWI Accidents Mean Felony Charges
There are a host of possible felony charges for a DWI involving an accident.
A DWI accident will also result in felony DWI charges. These will definitely be filed in the foregoing DWI case involving child passengers. But felony charges can come up in other situations as well.
Most common, DWI accidents involving injuries will result in felony DWI charges. This would include accidents involving other drivers, pedestrians and/or passengers in your own car.
Most catastrophic for all involved is an accident involving death. These accidents will be charged as vehicular homicide along with numerous other counts.
Plan Ahead – Don’t Drink and Drive
DWI is taken very seriously in New Mexico. Law enforcement is aware of the celebrations that come with the holiday season and they plan accordingly. Law enforcement will be out in force with roadblocks, DWI super blitzes, increased patrols and so on.
Drinking and driving during the holidays puts you at high risk for a DWI. It puts other drivers on the road at risk as well. It puts your family at risk. Just don’t do it.
Plan ahead. There are many resources available to get you and your family home safely. These include designated drivers, cabs, Uber style services, Safe Ride and even monthly club memberships that make sure you get home safely. Some will even get your car home as well.
If by chance, you do get a DWI, contact an experienced DWI attorney right away.