Understanding DUI And DWI Charges

Most states (including New Mexico) have laws prohibiting drivers from operating a vehicle when they are driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any combination of the two (Driving Under the Influence/Driving While Impaired). In order to receive a conviction, there has to be enough proof that you were in control of a vehicle, including a boat, during a time when your blood alcohol level met the state standards for any level of impairment.

Substantiation of whether you were in control and operating a vehicle at such time is provided by a police officer or an eyewitness. It could be that the officer found you asleep at the wheel with the vehicle pulled over to the side of the road. An officer can also determine that there is enough evidence to prove that you were behind the wheel and driving when the vehicle was involved in an accident. That evidence may be from your own admission or other telltale information.

Stiff penalties typically follow a conviction of a DUI, and that is true whether the conviction was classified as a felony or a misdemeanor. The difference though, is that effects of a felony conviction last longer than those of a misdemeanor. It is important that you understand the differences between these two classifications if you are facing the possibility of such conviction.

Offenders are classified according to the frequency and severity of the crime they have committed. Drivers facing charges of DUI/DWI may fall under a misdemeanor classification if they are a first-time offender, if their blood alcohol level is low compared to the standards of NM state laws, or if there was no damage caused by the incident.

Drivers who have been charged with a DWI with a minor in the vehicle may have the charge brought against them raised to a felony. The same is true if someone was injured or severe property damage occurred. Repeat DUI/DWI offenders with high or extreme blood alcohol levels may also face felony charges.

In addition to classifications of felony or misdemeanor, the severity of punishment is different also, depending on which one the offender is charged with. Misdemeanors typically carry a stiff financial penalty with the possibility that the driver’s license being suspended. Such conviction may also carry a sentence of incarceration in the county jail for up to a year.

Penalties for conviction of a felony drunken driving offense are also financial in nature, but the fine is much higher than with a misdemeanor. In addition to that, a prison sentence of a year or more can often be expected. This time is generally served in a state facility.

There are many far-reaching consequences to being convicted of a felony that may not be the case with a misdemeanor. These consequences are much more substantial than those incurred with a misdemeanor conviction. For instance, prospective employers have the right to know if applicants have a criminal record. Based on information provided, they also have the right to refuse even well qualified persons employment if they have been convicted of a felony.

After being convicted of a felony, a person is often at greater risk for being held to the ‘three strikes’ laws of some states. Continued abuse of the law can in time lead to a sentence of life in prison.

Anyone who is facing drunk driving charges should immediately get in touch with a qualified and experienced DUI/DWI attorney to help them through this situation. Going it alone can lead to less than favorable outcomes, like the ones spelled out above. The legal process surrounding this crime can be complicated and confusing, and there are some potential defenses that most people are not even aware of. With the help of a competent attorney, you will have everything you need to defend your rights and fight for your freedom. They will provide the guidance you need to get you through this challenging and emotionally charged situation.

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