Drivers in New Mexico are considered intoxicated when they operate passenger vehicles with blood alcohol concentrations of .08% or higher or commercial vehicles with BACs of .04% or higher. For motorists who are not permitted to consume alcohol because they are under the age of 21, the drunk driving threshold is reduced to .02%. However, even motorists with lower BACs can be charged with DWI if they are impaired to the point where they can no longer operate a motor vehicle safely. New Mexico road users can also lose their driving privileges if they violate the state’s implied consent law by refusing to provide a breath or blood sample for toxicology testing.
New Mexico’s drunk driving laws are strictly enforced because about 40% of the fatal accidents that take place in the United States each year involve a driver impaired by drugs or alcohol. Drivers who believe that they can lower their BAC by taking a cold shower, going for a walk or drinking coffee may be wise to think again. The liver can only process about one alcoholic drink per hour, which means time is the only thing that can sober an intoxicated individual up.
In addition to fines and possible jail time, New Mexico motorists convicted of DUI face lengthy driving bans and could be required to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles when their driving privileges are restored. License revocations in the state range from one year for a first DWI conviction to a lifetime ban for a fourth or subsequent offense.
Prosecutors usually rely on breath test results to prove alcohol intoxication in drunk driving cases, but this evidence may be challenged in certain situations. An experienced criminal defense attorney may seek to have toxicology figures excluded when the equipment used to test breath samples was miscalibrated or poorly maintained, and they may question the reliability of this evidence if their client suffers from any of the medical conditions that are known to influence breath test results.