Procedural Deadlines in a DWI Case

There are numerous deadlines in a New Mexico DWI case.  Some of these are related to administrative hearings such as the MVD license revocation and Albuquerque’s DWI Vehicle Seizure program.   Others are more a matter of custom and practice such as the waiver of arraignment.

These deadlines have important implications for your rights.  However, the procedural deadlines addressed offer the greatest and sometimes only protection in the criminal prosecution of the DWI defendant.  And they represent the basis for the great majority of DWI cases that are dismissed prior to trial.

New Mexico Rules of Criminal Procedure

The deadlines here are set forth in the New Mexico Rules of Criminal Procedure. They are intended to be firm in their enforcement.  However, there is some level of discretion up to a point with the judge.  The differential exercise of this discretion by various judges is among the primary considerations in the decision to recuse the first assigned judge.

The great bulk of DWI cases are charged as misdemeanor DWI.   The deadlines addressed here apply to misdemeanor DWI.  The deadlines will vary sometimes quite significantly for felony DWI.

Primary Procedural Deadlines in Misdemeanor DWI Case

The deadlines set forth below offer enormous protection for a DWI defendant.  For the most part, they insure that the District Attorney is cooperating with defense in the provision of discovery and state’s witnesses. Without access to this information, it is impossible for an attorney to competently represent you.

1.State‘s Discovery:  The first deadline in a DWI case (or any misdemeanor case for that matter) is the deadline on when the state must provide discovery to the defendant’s attorney.  Discovery includes all the evidence that the State has against you.  It also includes exculpatory evidence.  Included in discovery, there should be a list of the State’s witnesses.  The deadline here is 45 days from arraignment.

2.Interview of State‘s Witnesses:  The next important deadline is the deadline on the defense attorney’s interview of state’s witnesses.  This would include interviewing both law enforcement and civilian witnesses.  The deadline for this is only 100 days from arraignment.

It takes little imagination to see how a defense attorney might get pushed past this deadline as a result of the non-cooperation of the State.  This happens frequently requiring that the defense attorney request an extension of the deadline.

3.Exhibits and Witness Lists:  The next important deadline is the deadline on provision of exhibit and witness lists.  These must be provided at least 10 days prior to trial.  The witness list is typically provided much earlier.  The exhibits are also usually provided in advance.

The judge should not allow late notice on these matters since there is no excuse for even pushing it to 10 days prior to trial.

4.Motion Deadlines:  There also deadlines on filing pre-trial motions.  These would include motions to exclude witnesses, evidence, exhibits and other matters.  The basis for these motions are vast depending upon the circumstances.

The deadline on these motions is set by the judge.  It is important to abide by the judge’s schedule or risk having the motion stricken.

5.Response Deadlines:  Following on the motion deadline, the deadlines on responses to motions is 15 days from date of receipt of motion.   This is another area where there is discretion with the court which can sometimes allow the State more leeway than fairness would dictate.

Speedy Trial Rule

This is the big one and is set out separately.  Under the United States Constitution, every accused defendant has a right to a speedy trial.  The speedy trial rights are extremely important for many reasons that need not be addressed here.

Suffice it to say that the speedy trial rule as enforced in New Mexico misdemeanor cases, including DWI’s, is 182 days from the date arraignment (or waiver of arraignment).

This deadline is firm for almost all judges.  There are cases where it can be extended where the need for the extension arises on the side of the defendant.  Most often, the deadline is extended due to continuances requested by the defendant and/or his attorney.   No such extension is granted for continuances requested by the State.

Continuances are granted for many reasons.  The continuance as well as its effect on the speedy trial rule should be discussed with your attorney.

Violations Can and Do Often Result in Dismissal

These procedural deadlines are there to protect the defendant.  Violations are serious.  Enforcement varies from judge to judge within certain parameters.  However, each violation presents an argument for dismissal.  And even those judges most reluctant to dismiss a DWI will dismiss a case for repeated violations of these deadlines.

Aditional Reading on New Mexico DWI Issues from our DWI Blog

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