Avoid a DWI in New Mexico (5 Things You Need to Know about DWI)

To avoid a DWI in New Mexico, you should know at least these five things.


I.  DWI in New Mexico
II. Penalties
III.The Costs
IV. Sobriety Tests
V.  Avoid Arrest

I. DWI in New Mexico

It’s illegal to drive while intoxicated, called DWI in New Mexico.

For those age 21 or older, DWI is driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. The law for commercial drivers, is 0.04% or more.

For drivers under 21, including adults 18 through 20, it’s 0.02% or higher. This is called zero tolerance. But such drivers don’t need to have a BAC of zero percent. There are good reasons for this.

dwi in new mexicoOne reason is that “breathalyzers” or alcohol breath testers are unreliable. In fact, they don’t actually measure BAC. (That requires analyzing a sample of blood itself.) They only estimate it. And they’r not reliable. That’s why not all states permit their use.

Another reason why a zero BAC isn’t required is that many medications and foods contain alcohol. Even bread does. A third is that everyone of every age produces alcohol within the body. And they do it constantly.

Therefore, permitting estimated BACs under 0.02% reduces the chances of convicting innocent young drivers.

If a breathalyzer suggests an illegal BAC, the driver’s license is revoked on the spot. However, being under that limit does not insure against arrest. All it takes is for an arresting officer think the person is too impaired to drive.

II. Penalties

The exact penalties for DWI in New Mexico vary. They include such things as

  • dwi in new mexico

    Please, no! Not her!

    Driver’s age .

  • Estimated BAC.
  • Type of license.
  • Any prior DWIs.
  • Ages of any occupants in the vehicle.
  • Any consequences of the DWI.
  • Effectiveness of the driver’s attorney.
  • Driver characteristics (demeanor in court, race, socio-economic status, etc.)
  • The specific judge hearing the case.

Nevertheless, here are the general guidelines.

First DWI Offense

  • Driver’s license suspension for six months to one year. (One year if offender is under age 21.)
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) on vehicle for one year following suspension. An IID prevents a vehicle from starting if alcohol is on the driver’s breath.
  • Imprisonment for up to 90 days.
  • Fine of up to $500.
  • BAC test fee of $65.
  • dwi in new mexicoDWI school.
  • Community service.
  • Cost of alcohol screening and treatment.

Second DWI Offense

  • Driver’s license suspension for two years.
  • Ignition interlock device on vehicle for two years following suspension.
  • Imprisonment for 96 hours to 364 days.
  • Fine of $500 to $1,000.
  • dwi in new mexicoBAC test fee of $65.
  • Community service.
  • Cost of alcohol screening and treatment.
  • Up to five years of probation.

Third DWI Offense

  • License suspension for three years.
  • Ignition interlock device on vehicle for three years following suspension.
  • Imprisonment for 30 to 364 days.
  • Fine of $750 to $1,000.
  • The BAC test fee, community service, and cost of screening and treatment remain the same.

Fourth DWI Offense

  • License suspension for life with five-year court review.
  • Imprisonment for six to 18 months.
  • Fine of up to $5,000.
  • Lifetime ignition interlock device for life with five-year court review.
  • The BAC test fee and cost of screening and treatment are the same.

Aggravated DWI in New Mexico

Aggravated DWI offenses are from a BAC of 0.16% or higher, or causing injury or death. It also results when drivers use their Constitutional right not to submit to a chemical BAC tester (estimator).

A first offense of aggravated DWI results in an additional mandatory imprisonment of 48 hours. If a second offense occurs, the additional imprisonment is 96 hours. And if a third occurs, it’s 60 hours more imprisonment.

III. The Costs

Legal Costs

Getting hit with a charge of DWI in New Mexico or anywhere elsewhere is very expensive. And this is true even if you’re innocent. Of course, it’s even more expensive if a judge or jury convicts you.

dwi in new mexicoThe cost of a legal DWI defense is very hard to estimate. That’s because the complexity of cases varies widely. And more complex cases take more of a lawyer’s time. That means more money.

It’s wise to select an experienced lawyer who specializes in DUI defense. The knowledge and experience of such a lawyer is invaluable. In fact, such a lawyer may need less time.

Clearly, simply asking lawyers how much they charge per hour isn’t helpful. It’s like asking a car dealer how much it costs to buy a car.

Other Costs

There are a number of other costs. They may include fines, court costs, property damage, medical expenses, possible loss of employment, increased insurance rates, and other expenses. The total can be high. It can easily be more than lawyer fees and expenses. Therefore, the total cost of an DWI can easily be tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition, there are non-money costs as well. They may include pain and suffering, feelings of guilt, embarrassment, driving license suspension, loss of friendships, and many others.

Knowing the very high costs of a DWI is helpful. It’s a great motivation. That can help us try even more to avoid one.

IV. Sobriety Tests

Chemical Tests

dwi in new mexicoAll states require drivers to submit to alcohol breath testers (estimators). That, in spite of their scientifically proven unreliability.

However, all drivers have a Constitutional right to decline taking a chemical BAC test. In spite of that, the state punishes those who use their right. Their license is revoked on the spot even if they are completely sober. The revocation is for one year. Also, New Mexico denies any restricted driving for work, school, or other essential activities.

Field Sobriety Tests

However, no state requires drivers to take a field sobriety test. And that’s good. Simply put, field sobriety tests lack validity. That’s why about one-third of completely sober people with a 0.00% BAC fail them. And they do so under ideal conditions.

dwi in new mexicoNaturally, taking a field sobriety test on an uneven highway shoulder after being pulled over by police and being very nervous is far from ideal. So the “real world” failure rate for completely sober people must be much higher.

Understandably, lawyers strongly urge drivers never to submit to any field sobriety test. On the other hand, police want suspects to take them. They often falsely insist the law requires it. It doesn’t. Or they say that passing it proves you’re innocent. It doesn’t.

An officer who pulls over a driver for suspected drinking and driving is conducting a criminal investigation. The officer may legally lie to you. Remember that if you are a suspect in a crime, the police officer is your adversary.

Discover much more about field sobriety tests. Also, learn What to Do if Pulled Over by the police. Knowledge really is power to protect yourself.

V. Avoid Arrest

dwi in new mexicoObviously, one way to avoid a DWI is by abstaining from alcohol. Another choice is to use a Designated Driver or use public transportation.

Most drivers enjoy drinking alcohol, at least on occasion. They may lack a Designated Driver or access to public transportation. And they may be unable to afford Uber or Lynks.

So how can drivers drink before driving, yet avoid arrest? The answer is simple and legal, except for drivers under 21.  It’s simple. Maintain a low BAC.

These guidelines can help keep a low BAC.

dwi in new mexico

Standard Drinks

  • Remember that standard drinks of beer, wine and spirits have equivalent amounts of pure alcohol. They’re all the same to a breathalyzer.
  • Consume no more than one standard drink each hour. Preferably less.
  • Avoid non-standard drinks. This makes it much easier to keep track of alcohol intake.
  • Eat and snack food while drinking. This is very important!
  • Have a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones.
  • Accept an alcoholic drink only when it fits your consumption schedule.
  • Avoid drinking games.
  • Don’t try to match the consumption of others.
Arrested for DWI in New Mexico?

This website strongly opposes impaired driving. But it also supports the U.S. Constitution and the rights it grants both the innocent and the guilty.

If you’re charged with A DWI in New Mexico, contact a lawyer immediately. The attorney should specialize in drinking and driving cases. Better yet is one whose practice is limited to such cases.

New Mexico’s state bar (lawyer) association offers an e-mail lawyer referral service for $35. Alternatively, Martingale-Hubbell offers a free on-line database with lawyers by specialty and geographic location. In addition, it provides client and peer evaluations.

Don’t rely on this or any other site for legal information.


Brezina, C. I’ve Gotten a DWI/DUI, Now What? NY: Rosen, 2016.

CDC. Teen Drinking and Driving. Atlanta: 2012. (website)

___. Impaired Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)

Gillespie, L. Police Encounters. Know Your Rights. Gillespie, 2014.

Hudson, T. The Drinker’s Guide to Driving: The Secrets of DUI, From One of America’s Top DUI Lawyers. Cork: BookBaby, 2013.

Keech, C. & Fairchild, C. Dude, What are My Rights? Kansas City, MO: Keechild, 2014.

Lauterjung, L. DUI law for Drivers. How to Avoid DUI Arrests and How to Handle a DUI Stop. Lauterjung, 2012.

Nevels, T. Avoid DWI and Marijuana Charges. Cork: BookBaby, 2015.

NHTSA. Drunk Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)

Sagsletter, R. Rights During a Police Stop / DUI in the United States. What Officers Can and Cannot Do. Denver, CO: Outskirts, 2012.