New Mexico DWI Criminal and Court Process
New Mexico DWI Criminal and Court Process
Subsequent to a DWI arrest in New Mexico, a criminal case will be filed. Below, you will find information regarding the criminal DWI process in New Mexico that occurs following a DWI arrest. Every jurisdiction is different, however, so be sure to contact a local New Mexico DWI attorney for more information on the particular facts and circumstances in your case.
**NOTE – Two separate cases will arise from the same DWI offense. In addition to criminal charges, a separate civil case will be filed as well. The information contained in this section applies to the process and procedures that occur in a typical DUI criminal case. For more information on the civil administrative case and process, click on the New Mexico Driving tab.
The New Mexico DWI Stop and Arrest
The first stage in most DWI cases is the initial traffic stop. A DWI arrest is often made following a stop for a simple traffic infraction (such as speeding, failure to signal, improper lane usage, driving the wrong way down a one way street, running a red light, etc.). An arrest may also occur following an accident or breakdown. In such situations, the officer will not suspect impairment until after he makes contact and has an opportunity to make more observations of the suspect. There are times, however, when the police may suspect they are dealing with a drunk driver before actual contact with the subject is made. A suspect will be pulled over because the officer suspects they are too impaired to drive. That suspicion may arise as a result of poor driving patterns, or it may be based on a tip that was received by another driver on the road. See the DUI Stop section on our national page for more information. Once stopped, if an officer suspects you to be DWI he will order you out of the vehicle for further investigation. He may ask you to perform Field sobriety exercises.
**NOTE: You have a right to refuse performance of physical sobriety exercise. Remember that these “tests” are designed for failure and are difficult for people to perform sober. Also, be sure to tell the officer about any injuries or illness or prior head injuries you have suffered.
A portable handheld breath test may be given to you, if you are in a jurisdiction that uses them. You may refuse to submit to the PBT and New Mexico law does not allow the results of a PBT to be admissible in court. If the officer determines he has enough evidence to believe a DWI has occurred, you will be handcuffed and put into a police car. Upon arrival at the police station, the police will request a breath test or blood test. In New Mexico DWI law, you have a right to an independent or additional test. If you requested an independent test and the officer failed to provide you with a reasonable opportunity to get one, then be sure to tell your attorney.
**NOTE – There is no right to speak to an attorney prior to making the decision of whether to take a breath or blood test. Only once you are placed into police custody AND are being subjected to a custodial interrogation will your Miranda rights be read and your right to an attorney kicks in. The police will not interrogate a New Mexico DWI suspect until after a request for a chemical test is made.
The New Mexico DWI Booking Process
As part of the booking process, you will be searched, fingerprinted, questioned, photographed, and placed into a cell. Bail will be set and you will be afforded the opportunity to place a call to speak with a bonding company or a friend/relative to make bail post arrangements.
There are two ways to be released following a DWI arrest – either through posting a bond, or release on your own recognizance. If you are required to post a bond, the money you post will be returned to you at the end of the case unless you fail to report to your court hearings.
New Mexico DWI Criminal Court Process and Procedure
The first court hearing following a DWI arrest in New Mexico is called the arraignment. At the arraignment, the judge will formally advise you of the charges that have been filed against you, and you will be asked to enter a plea. There are three possible pleas available at the time of Arraignment – Guilty, Not Guilty, and No Contest. If you plead guilty or no contest, the judge will likely impose a sentence at that time. If you plead not guilty, the conditions of release will be determined and your case will be set for a pretrial hearing.
**NOTE: Unless you have hired a New Mexico DWI attorney to represent you who has filed a notice of appearance on your behalf, your attendance is mandatory at the arraignment hearing.
The pretrial hearing/conference is a hearing prior to trial to negotiate with the prosecutor and update the judge on the progression of your case. Issues with discovery, witness availability or attorney schedule conflicts will also be resolved. If a plea agreement is reached, the judge will enter it onto the record and impose the sentence. If no plea arrangement results, the case will be set for trial.
PRETRIAL MOTION HEARING
If your attorney wishes to resolve issues prior to your trial, motion or evidentiary hearings will be requested. At this hearing, your attorney will go before the court and the judge will decide important key issues of your case, such as the admissibility of evidence. Testimony by the arresting officer is usually given. Expert witnesses may also be called to testify. Your attorney will have the opportunity to question and cross examine the witnesses for the government, and will also have the opportunity to present testimony, evidence, and argument. The most common motion in DWI breath/blood cases is a motion to suppress the chemical test results. If the judge grants the motion, the evidence will not be admissible at your trial.
Most New Mexico DWI cases are resolved before trial. However, every DWI defendant in New Mexico has a right to a trial by jury. In some circumstances a bench trial may be more desirable, where a judge will act as both judge and jury to determine the issues of fact and law in your case. Bench trials are typically better in cases involving complex evidence and legal issues that would be difficult for a jury to follow. If a verdict of guilty is found, a sentence will be imposed. If the verdict is not guilty, the case and all charges will be dismissed.
Following a New Mexico DWI conviction, you have a right to appeal to the higher courts for review. Requests for appeals must be made timely, however, or the right to appeal will be considered “waived.”