(DUI/DWI) Process and Procedures


DUI - Albuquerque Criminal CasesIf you are facing charges related to “drunken driving,” it is very important to know your rights and what to expect, if you are going to successfully negotiate the maze of bewildering procedures and protect yourself against the potentially devastating punishments imposed by the New Mexico court system. The assistance of skilled legal counsel is key to moving forward with your life, as these charges, improperly defended, can ruin your future.

First of all, a driver stopped and suspected of DWI will be asked to perform a series of "field sobriety tests" — tests which are challenging for most people to perform well under the best of conditions. You may also be asked to take a “PBT" (preliminary breath test), and the officer often fails to advise you that you are not required to submit to this test.

If you are arrested, you will then be required to submit to breath or blood testing, usually at the police station and without any right to speak with an attorney. If you refuse to take the breath or blood test, or if the police officers feel that you are not cooperating to their satisfaction, you might be charged with a “refusal,” which triggers mandatory jail sentences and a one-year license suspension. If the breath test result registers over .08% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), or if there is a blood sample withdrawn or a refusal reported, the police will confiscate your driver’s license and issue a “notice of revocation.”

In this situation, you now face two different battles. First, you must deal with a criminal prosecution in the court system, where you will be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (or, possibly, driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs). If the breath or blood test was over .08%, you will also be charged with the so-called "per se" offense: driving with over .08% blood-alcohol. Properly defended, the criminal charges will involve several court hearings. In addition to potential jail time, a criminal conviction results in mandatory license revocation for a minimum of one year.

Second, in addition to and separate from criminal penalties, you must also deal with the administrative license suspension. A first offense DWI involves a six-to-twelve month suspension, depending on whether you refused to take the breath or blood test; a second offense may involve a two-year revocation period, and a third offense a three-year revocation. Other revocations in New Mexico may extend to five or ten years or longer, depending.

These suspensions can be successfully contested by an experienced DWI attorney, but it is critical in this situation that you or, preferably, your attorney, contact the DMV within 10 days of the arrest. The importance of this cannot be overstated; absent a timely request, there will be no hearing and the suspension will automatically take effect 20 days after the arrest.

These criminal and administrative proceedings can be effectively managed by a skilled, compassionate attorney with expertise in drunk driving cases.