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Are all drivers subject to the same legal BAC limit?

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2023 | Drunk Driving |

When the police perform a breath test, it gives a numerical reading of the test subject’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If a driver is over the legal limit, then the court can presume that they were impaired by the alcohol they consumed prior to getting behind the wheel.

This isn’t to say that a driver necessarily has to be over the legal limit to be arrested for drunk driving. There are cases where drivers are arrested due to other indications of impairment, such as failing field sobriety tests. But the legal limit is still very important, as it provides for “per se” impaired driving charges. As a result, it’s important to understand that driver in New Mexico are subject to three distinct legal limits in this regard.

3 different limits

New Mexico has three different legal limits that drivers need to be aware of. Depending on what category a motorist belongs to, their BAC limit is different. For instance, for drivers who are under 21 years old, the legal limit is 0.02%. This may sound surprisingly low, as someone could be over that limit after they’ve only consumed a single drink. In some cases, people may have only had a partial drink. But the reasoning for this is that no one is supposed to drink while they are under 21, so any evidence of alcohol consumption when driving is illegal for particularly young motorists.

For commercial drivers, the legal limit is 0.04%. These drivers are held to a higher standard for a few reasons. For one thing, semi-truck drivers who are impaired would put other motorists at great risk, considering the size and weight of their vehicles. Additionally, commercial bus drivers have their passengers’ safety to consider.

Finally, the standard legal limit for most other drivers is 0.08%. This is the same limit that is found across most of the United States, and it’s the first thing that drivers often think of when they are considering the “legal limit.” It may apply to most drivers, but the above shows that it does not apply to everyone.

What comes next?

Those who are facing drunk driving allegations in New Mexico could be facing serious ramifications. They may have to pay fines, they could lose their license and they may spend time behind bars. In some cases, drunk drivers may even worry that they will lose their jobs – especially if they can’t get to work without a license. They need to know all about their legal defense options, regardless of how far above – or below – their BAC was at the time of their arrest. Seeking legal guidance promptly, therefore, is advised.