New Mexico DWI Law Highlights: BAC Levels and Implied Consent (Table 1)

New Mexico
"Per Se" BAC Level
"Zero Tolerance" BAC Level
Enhanced Penalty BAC Level
"Implied Consent" Law


"Per Se" Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level

As of August 2005, all states have DWI laws that deem "per se intoxicated" any driver with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 percent. This means that drivers with a BAC at or above .08 are intoxicated in the eyes of the law, and no additional proof of driving impairment is necessary.

"Zero Tolerance" Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level

All states carry "zero tolerance" laws that target drivers under the legal drinking age. These laws penalize persons under 21 for operating a vehicle with any trace of alcohol in their systems (a BAC above 0.0), or with negligible BAC levels such as .01 or .02 percent.

"Enhanced Penalty" Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level

New Mexico imposes harsher penalties on DWI offenders with a particularly high BAC at the time of the offense, .16 percent. DWI offenders with a BAC at or above .16 will face the potential of jail time, harsher fines, and more severe driver’s license sanctions.

"Implied Consent" Laws

"Implied consent" laws require vehicle drivers to submit to some form of chemical test, such as breath, blood, or urine testing, if suspected of DWI. If a driver refuses to submit to such testing, implied consent laws carry penalties such as mandatory suspension of a driver’s license, usually for six months to a year.

New Mexico

Administrative License Suspension/Revocation (1st/2nd/3rd Offense)
90d/ varied/ varied

Mandatory Alcohol Education and Treatment/Assessment

Vehicle Confiscation Possible?

Ignition Interlock Device Possible?
2nd offense

Note: Persons arrested for DWI will be subject to additional criminal law penalties not addressed here — including jail time, fines, and community service. Such criminal penalties are typically more discretionary than those identified in this chart, and are therefore more difficult to accurately predict.

Generally speaking, first-time DWI offenders can expect to incur a fine, and face the possibility of jail time. Repeat DWI offenders will incur harsher fines, and will almost certainly be sentenced to a number of days in jail. Penalties will be harsher still if the DWI offender was involved in an accident in which someone else was injured or killed.


Administrative License Suspension/Revocation

The Administrative License Suspension/Revocation penalties indicated here refer to minimum mandatory penalties imposed on drivers whose BAC is above the state limit for intoxication, or drivers who refuse to submit to BAC testing. Administrative suspension or revocation of a driver's license is usually carried out by a state agency (such as a Department of Motor Vehicles), distinct from any criminal court penalties. Most states impose harsher penalties for second or third DWI offenses, typically defined as those that occur within five years of a prior DWI offense.

Note: the penalties identified here do not include variations for DWI offenders operating commercial vehicles, or drivers who have violated "zero tolerance" and "enhanced penalty" DWI laws (see Table 1). Most states recognize different sanctions for these types of DWI offenses.

Mandatory Alcohol Education and Assessment/Treatment

Alcohol education and treatment/assessment penalties for DWI offenders can include mandatory attendance at DWI prevention programs, and assessment of potential alcohol dependency problems. Such programs are often made "conditions" of a suspended sentence or probation, meaning that a DWI offender can avoid jail time and payment of hefty fines if he or she completes participation in the program. This chart indicates each state's utilization of alcohol education and treatment/assessment programs.

Vehicle Confiscation

Vehicle confiscation penalties allow a motor vehicle department or law enforcement agency to seize a DWI offender's vehicle, either permanently or for a set period of time. Such penalties typically apply only to repeat DWI offenders, and often the return of the vehicle requires payment of fines and significant administrative costs. This chart indicates each state's utilization of vehicle confiscation as a penalty for DWI.

Ignition Interlock

A vehicle ignition interlock breath-testing device measures a vehicle operator's BAC, and will prevent operation of the vehicle if more than a minimal amount of alcohol is detected (i.e. BAC level of .02). DWI offenders will usually be required to pay the costs of installation, rental, and maintenance of an ignition interlock device. This chart indicates each state's utilization of ignition interlock devices as a penalty for DWI.

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