When a person under the age of 21 has a driver’s license, they have a different set of rules than those who are legally able to purchase and consume alcohol in New Mexico. An underage minor, even if age 18-20, is expected to remain sober when driving just like everyone else. However, since a minor should not be drinking, when they are caught drinking and driving, the criteria for a DWI is much more strict.
An underage DWI in New Mexico requires that the driver only has a small amount of alcohol in their system. For adults over the age of 21, that amount is at .08 percent BAC (blood alcohol concentration). For an underage DWI charge, the minor only needs to have a .02 percent BAC. Plus, an underage DWI suspect could also be charge with additional crimes, such as:
- Distributing alcohol to minors.
- DWI child endangerment.
- Minor in possession.
With an underage DWI, New Mexico can order jail time, fines and a license suspension. The state can also require the use of an ignition interlock device, which not only affects the offender, but anyone else who drives or owns the vehicle that was driven during the DWI incident. Insurance costs increase, as well, and then there are the penalties for any additional criminal charges that may be levied.
Although it is a common expectation for an adult or older teen to “experiment” with alcohol before they turn 21, the truth is that nobody under that age should be drinking. Considering the responsibility that comes with driving, the last thing anyone should risk is a DWI – not just for the criminal penalties, but, because of the risk to others on the road, and the driver and passengers in the vehicle. An underage DWI in New Mexico is a wholly preventable crime and it starts with making safe choices with both alcohol and intoxicated driving.