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New Mexico DWI Laws

New Mexico is working hard to reduce and eliminate driving while intoxicated (DWI). State DUI laws impose serious consequences if you're caught driving intoxicated. A DWI conviction can earn you heavy fines, court costs, driver's license suspension, and jail time. A DWI conviction in New Mexico will stay on your record for 55 years.

Intoxicated driving is a serious issue. Around 40% of traffic fatalities involve a drunk driver. To reduce these deaths, law enforcement is trained to spot impaired driving. Public awareness campaigns urge drivers to plan for a safe ride if they're going out drinking.

Strict laws and increased enforcement have helped save lives across the state. Read on as FindLaw explains the basics of New Mexico's DWI laws.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Implied Consent

"Per Se" BAC Limit 0.08%
Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit 0.02%
Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit 0.16%
Implied Consent to Submit to BAC Test? Yes

Select Penalties

Minimum License Suspension or Revocation
  • First Offense: One year
  • Second Offense: Two years
  • Third offense: Three years
Mandatory Alcohol Education, Assessment, and Treatment Both
Vehicle Confiscation Possible? Yes
Ignition Interlock Device Possible? Yes

Note: State laws can change through legislative, judicial, or other means. While FindLaw works hard to ensure the accuracy of its legal resources, it's a good idea to research the law or check with an attorney to ensure you have the most recent information.

New Mexico Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Laws

The state of New Mexico law states that it is unlawful for anyone to drive a vehicle when:

  • Under the influence of alcohol
  • Under the influence of any drug that makes you unable to drive safely
  • You have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more
  • Your BAC is 0.04% if operating a commercial vehicle

In addition to a DWI charge, if you are transporting a minor 13 years of age or younger law enforcement will charge you with a DWI with a minor in the vehicle.

Aggravated DWI

If certain factors are present, your DWI charge is more serious. These include:

  • Having an alcohol level of 0.16% or more
  • Causing an accident that results in bodily injury
  • Refusing to cooperate with chemical tests

Your mandatory jail time increases and the judge may impose harsher sanctions.

Implied Consent for Chemical Tests

By driving in New Mexico, you are giving law enforcement consent to chemical tests of your breath or blood when you're suspected of drugged or drunk driving. This is New Mexico's implied consent law.

After preliminary breath testing and field sobriety tests, law enforcement may arrest you on a DWI charge. After your arrest, law enforcement will ask you to submit to an evidentiary breath test or a blood test to verify your BAC and check for other intoxicants. You may refuse the preliminary tests, but refusing chemical testing after your arrest carries immediate consequences.

If you refuse chemical tests after arrest, you lose your driver's license for one year. If you take part in a chemical test and fail by having drugs in your system or a BAC of 0.08%, your license revocation is for six months instead.

If your DWI charge becomes aggravated, you face 92 days in jail and other sentencing requirements if convicted.

Even if you refuse chemical tests, the officer can get a search warrant to compel your cooperation.

Per Se DWI Offense

New Mexico law recognizes a per se DWI when your blood alcohol content is 0.08% or more. A per se offense acknowledges that a BAC of 0.08% is too impaired to operate a vehicle safely. Evidence from a breath test or blood test showing your BAC is at or above this legal limit is all the evidence necessary to prosecute and convict you of a DWI.

Law enforcement does not need to show impairment. You may not behave drunk or drive erratically. A valid breath or blood test showing your BAC is enough.

Law enforcement can arrest you for a DWI offense if your BAC is lower than 0.08%. In this instance, law enforcement will need evidence of impairment or chemical tests showing intoxicating substances in your system at the time you were driving.

The prosecution cannot reduce a per se DWI to a lesser charge.

DWI Penalties

Following your arrest, the criminal court will hear part of your case. The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) handles the other portion.

If convicted, your sentence carries multiple mandatory elements. You will face probation and many hours of community service. You must undergo a drug and alcohol screening and assessment. The judge may order you to attend a DWI victim panel. A judge can order the forfeiture of your vehicle, depending on the circumstances of your DWI.

With no aggravating factors, you face a misdemeanor charge if you're 21 or older. Your sentencing will include the following elements:



Jail Time


Criminal Court License Revocation

Community Service

Education, Screening, and Treatment

First Offense


90 days

One year

One year

24 hours

First offenders program/DWI school; drug and alcohol screening and treatment program

Second Offense

$500 to $1,000

364 days, with 96 hours mandatory

Five years

Two years

48 hours

Drug and alcohol screening; 28-day inpatient or 90-day outpatient substance abuse treatment program

Third Offense


364 days with 30 days mandatory

Five years

Three years

96 hours

Drug and alcohol screening; 28-day inpatient or 90-day outpatient substance abuse treatment program

A fourth or subsequent offense is a felony offense.

Criminal and Administrative License Suspensions

Your license will face both criminal and administrative suspension. Each revocation period is independent of the other. If the MVD suspends your license after your arrest, this is separate from the license revocation you receive if convicted. Your administrative license revocation stands regardless of the result of your criminal case.

Administrative revocation happens immediately after your DWI arrest. You may challenge this revocation by requesting a hearing with the administrative hearings office within 10 days of your arrest.

Ignition Interlock License and Device

On conviction, part of your sentence will include license revocation and a period of required use of an ignition interlock device (IID).

An ignition interlock device connects to your vehicle's ignition. When you want to drive, you must provide a breath sample into the IID. If it detects alcohol in your sample, the IID prevents your car from starting. The IID will prompt you for additional breath samples during your drive to ensure no alcohol is being consumed.

Any violations of the IID, such as a failed breath test or attempt to circumvent the device, will extend your requirement period.

Once an approved installer has placed the IID in all vehicles you drive, you can apply for an ignition interlock license.

A first-time DWI conviction will require you to install and maintain an IID for one year. A second offense will require an IID for two years.

Zero Tolerance for Underage DWIs

Drinking is strictly prohibited if you are under 21. Under New Mexico's zero-tolerance law, if you are under 21 and have a BAC of 0.02% or more when driving, your driver's license revocation is for one year.

You could face adult penalties if your BAC is 0.08% or more.

New Mexico DWI Resources:

Get Legal Help With Your DWI Case in New Mexico

If you're arrested for a DWI in New Mexico, it's important to understand the serious nature of the charges against you. A DWI conviction on your record will follow you for many years and significantly impact your life. Contact a qualified New Mexico DWI defense attorney to review your case and provide legal advice.

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