How to Get a DWI Dismissed in New Mexico
Within the justice system in New Mexico, we refer to most driving under the influence offenses as DWI. From a legal standpoint, there is no difference between this and DUI. However, the two terms are often confused because the offenses are identical and it is generally acceptable to use the terms interchangeably.
The dreaded flashing lights in the rear-view mirror. You’re being pulled over and you know you shouldn’t have had that last drink…
For many people in New Mexico, a DWI charge is their first (and often only) brush with the law. However, it only takes one conviction on your criminal record to impact the rest of your life.
So, what do you do? How do you get a DWI dismissed in New Mexico so that it doesn’t restrict future options when it comes to employment, housing, finance, and travel?
Getting a DWI dismissed may be tough but you have a chance, especially with the right legal representation to defend you.
What happens after your arrest?
If you are arrested on a misdemeanor DWI charge in New Mexico, a date will be set for your arraignment hearing.
At this hearing, a judge will explain the criminal charge, the potential penalties, your constitutional rights, and you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Then you will be released and conditions may apply, such as no driving without a valid license and no consumption of alcohol.
First things first: do not plead guilty. With legal representation, you have a chance of case dismissal or acquittal at trial, regardless of the weight of evidence against you.
While this chance exists, do not try to explain yourself or what happened to the judge, instead let your lawyer do the talking. If you do not yet have a lawyer at the arraignment, simply plead not guilty.
If the complaint against you is flawed, your attorney may move to dismiss the charges at the arraignment.
If you retain an attorney prior to the arraignment, your attorney may request that your appearance at the arraignment be waived and have you sign a document to enter your not guilty plea that way instead.
If the case proceeds, it enters a “discovery” phase where evidence is provided, interviews are conducted, and opportunities to get the case dismissed may arise.
What is the time limits at the beginning of the case?
When preparing your DWI defense, it is important to move quickly because there are some important early deadlines.
After your arraignment, there is a 10-day limit from the date of your arraignment to request that the judge assigned to your case be excused so it may be reassigned to another judge. This may be important if the judge initially assigned to your case may not be a good judge to hear your case.
If there is the potential to spend 90-180 days in jail in your case, you may be eligible for a jury trial. However, a jury demand usually needs to be made within the 10-day period or you may miss your right to such a trial. If your potential sentence is 180 days in jail or more, your case is automatically eligible for a jury trial.
The 10-day time limit also affects your driving privileges. Unlike the 10 day limit to excuse a judge, however, which is starts from the date of your arraignment, this 10 day time limit starts from the date that you are arrested. This is important because, for example, you may be arrested on June 1. You then have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to request an MVD hearing on whether your driver’s license will be revoked, so that hearing would have to be requested no later than June 11. If you do not request a hearing during that time period, then 20 days after your arrest, your license will be revoked, so on June 21, your license would be revoked and you would be required to get an ignition interlock license and to install an ignition interlock in your vehicle. If you do request a MVD hearing within the first 10 days, then nothing happens to your license immediately and, instead, you will get a hearing on whether your license will be revoked. After that hearing, you’ll receive notice as to whether or not your license will be revoked.
What happens if this is your first DWI?
For a first DUI offense, the penalties are more lenient than for repeat offenders but there is still the possibility of spending up to 90 days in jail.
With good legal representation and depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may be able to avoid jail time altogether even if you are convicted. Many first-time DWI offenders receive community service, classes, counseling, and fines.
However, the aim of any good DWI lawyer should be to have your case dismissed before it goes to trial.
How can you fight a DWI and get it dismissed?
Your lawyer will start your defense by looking for the most common reasons for DWI cases to be dismissed by the New Mexico courts.
With DWIs, there is a strict set of procedures and protocols that law enforcement must follow. If mistakes are made, that may give rise to grounds to dismiss the case.
Following are some common ways to get DWI charges dismissed in New Mexico:
- Lack of sufficient grounds to stop your vehicle by police
New Mexico police must have an acceptable reason to stop your vehicle and question you, such as reasonable suspicion that a traffic violation has been committed. For instance, if you were speeding, ran a red light, were weaving, or had other violations.
- No reason to have you performs field sobriety tests
Police must be able to say why they asked you to do field sobriety tests, such as an admission to drinking, an odor of alcohol, difficult in speaking or similar observations.
- The tests performed on you were improper
Before charging you with DWI, New Mexico law enforcement will run tests to gather evidence: field sobriety tests may be used at the stopping location as well as breathalyzer tests and chemical tests later performed to confirm blood alcohol content (BAC).
These must all be conducted in the right way to be lawful. Improperly administered sobriety tests, for instance, can lead to a DWI case being dismissed, as can poorly calibrated equipment or lack of certification from the officer who administered the test.
- Witnesses are not provided
In these cases, the prosecution is reliant upon witness testimony to prove their case. If these witnesses do not appear for pre-case interviews or at the trial itself, the case may not proceed. For instance, the chemist who performed the blood test may need to appear in court to secure a conviction, as will the officer(s) who were involved in your arrest.
Even if the case is not dismissed outright, the prosecution may be willing to negotiate a plea bargain if they are aware that their case is weak.
This is why it’s so important to hire an experienced DWI lawyer to support you, defend your rights, and negotiate with the prosecution in your best interests.
Have you been charged with DWI in New Mexico?
If you need legal assistance for a DWI charge, start with a free case evaluation with one of the DWI attorneys at New Mexico Legal Group. Call 505.876.9175.