Home to one of the highest rates of alcohol-related traffic fatalities, New Mexico has enacted some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the nation, including an all-offender ignition interlock law that has reduced drunk driving-related deaths in the state by 33 percent since its enactment in 2005. However, the state had the eighth-highest DWI death rate in 2011, according to the D.W.I. Resource Center in Albuquerque.
Each legislative session, New Mexico lawmakers introduce new drunk driving bill proposals in an effort to make the state’s roads safer. Earlier this year, the House passed a bill that would ban convicted drunk driving offenders with ignition interlocks from buying alcohol. If passed, it would be the most restrictive drunk driving law in the U.S., but action on the bill has been postponed indefinitely.
Anyone who operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher in New Mexico is charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). The legal limit for drivers under the age of 21 is 0.02. The consequences of DWI in New Mexico include heavy fines, jail time, and driver’s license revocation:
- 1st Offense (misdemeanor) – Up to 90 days in jail; 6-month to 1-year license revocation
- 2nd Offense – $500 to $1,000 fine; 96 hours to 364 days in jail; 2-year license revocation
- 3rd Offense – $750 to $1,000 fine; 30 to 364 days in jail; 3-year license revocation
- 4th Offense (4th degree felony) – Up to $5,000 fine; 6 to 18 months in prison; lifetime license revocation
- 5th Offense – Up to $5,000 fine; 1 to 2 years in prison; lifetime license revocation
- 6th Offense (3rd degree felony) – Up to $5,000 fine; 18 to 30 months in prison; lifetime license revocation
- 7th or subsequent offenses – Up to $5,000 fine; 2 to 3 years in prison; lifetime license revocation
Convicted drunk drivers are also required to participate in alcohol evaluation and treatment programs and, under a misdemeanor DWI, community service. Offenders sentenced with a lifetime license revocation might have their driving privileges restored after a 5-year court review.
Ignition Interlock Laws
New Mexico is one of 17 states that requires all convicted drunk drivers, even first-time offenders, to install an ignition interlock in their vehicle. First-, second-, and third-time offenders must keep the device installed for one, two, and three years, respectively. The installation period increases to lifetime installation with a 5-year court review for 4th or subsequent offenses.