Watch Your BAC: New Mexico and Implied Consent Penalties

New Mexico has clear "implied consent" laws.Refusing a breath test during a traffic stop in New Mexico can have some pretty far-reaching consequences, and a few that you’ll experience on the spot. If you deny an officer the chance to test your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and he or she believes you are intoxicated, then you’re going to lose your driver’s license, right then and there. It isn’t even the officer who gets to decide in that moment to take away your freedom – it is the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (NMMVD) reminding you about the “implied consent” to a BAC test that you agreed to when you applied for your license.

As part of the agreement between you and the state of New Mexico, you were issued a license with the understanding that you wouldn’t drink and drive. That’s why you “consented” to BAC testing, to prove your commitment to sober driving. When you refuse the test, you are in violation of New Mexico’s “implied consent” laws which say you essentially agreed to hand over your license if that occurred. It isn’t any different than if you do take the test and have a BAC reading at or above the legal limit for intoxication; when you refuse, the NMMVD assumes you’re intoxicated, and you’re a danger on the road.  Plus, if the NMMVD finds you guilty of a DWI, you won’t get your license back for a year, unless you install an ignition interlock. THEN, you face the criminal penalties, too.

Oddly, if you go ahead and submit a breath sample to the officer, your penalties from the NMMVD are somewhat less restrictive. Even better, if you remain sober while driving in New Mexico, you don’t have to worry about losing your license, “implied consent” laws, ignition interlocks or being a danger on the roads. It’s pretty clear what the best choice is – the one you agreed to when you got your license, and the one that keeps safety as the top priority for everyone.

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