Driving under the influence of alcohol is incredibly dangerous. A drunk driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely is significantly inhibited because of the alcohol in their system. In the event an accident occurs, legal action can be taken to hold them accountable for their negligence.
When a drunk driver injures others on the road, there are two types of legal recourse. The civil side allows personal injury victims to seek compensation for their injuries and losses. If you’re in a situation like that, an Albuquerque drunk driving accident lawyer from Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm can help you. In addition to civil litigation, a criminal conviction can take place through the court system.
Drinking and Driving Laws in New Mexico
As a driver and a resident of Albuquerque, it’s important to be aware of the drinking and driving laws for New Mexico. They’ll play a role in your car accident claim, particularly when proving fault. Our lawyers have a comprehensive understanding of the laws and how they could impact your case.
According to the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD), it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more if you’re 21 or older. If you’re under 21, the limit is .02. This allows for medications that contain alcohol, like some cough syrups. Truck drivers who operate commercial vehicles are limited to a 0.04 BAC. It’s important to note, however, that a person can be convicted of a DWI (Driving While Impaired) with a lower BAC than the legal limit if it’s proven their ability to drive was impaired to the slightest degree.
To prove a driver was operating their vehicle under the influence of alcohol, a law enforcement official only has to prove four points. First, the officer has to have reasonable grounds to believe the driver was intoxicated. Then, they need to show that the person was arrested and that the administrative hearing was held no later than 90 days after the notice of license revocation. Finally, the officer needs to explain that the person refused to submit to a breathalyzer or other sobriety tests, or a chemical test was administered, and the results were above the legal limit.
If a driver’s license is taken away because of a DWI, the revocation period can last anywhere from six months to a lifetime. It depends on how many times they’ve been convicted and how they acted when they were pulled over. A first-time, cooperative offender is likely to have a shorter revocation period than someone who’s been pulled over and arrested on multiple occasions.
Understanding the Effects of Alcohol
A standard alcoholic beverage contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. In general, a person’s liver can process that amount of alcohol in approximately one hour. What’s considered a standard drink is broken down by type. Twelve ounces of beer with 5% alcohol, eight ounces of malt liquor at 7%, five ounces of wine with 12%, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor at 40% are the standards.
There are a number of factors that affect how a person’s BAC level increases, not just the amount of alcohol they consume. An individual’s weight, gender, the pattern of drinking, and genetics play a role. The symptoms of intoxication, however, are fairly similar for the different BAC levels.
- 0.02%. At the lowest level of intoxication, a person is likely to feel relaxed and warm. They are capable of making poor judgments.
- 0.05%. At this level, behaviors become exaggerated. The person may speak louder and lose control of small muscles. For example, they may lose the ability to focus their eyes. Judgment is impaired and coordination is reduced. Because inhibitions are lowered, it’s more likely they’ll engage in risky activity.
- 0.08%. It’s considered illegal to drive at this point of intoxication because balance, speech, reaction times, and the ability to hear worsen. It’s difficult to stand still, focus on objects, and evade obstacles. Short-term memory may be affected, and reasoning, judgment, self-control, and concentration are impaired.
- 0.10%. At this point of inebriation, reaction time and control are reduced, and speech is likely to be slurred. Arm and leg coordination is poor.
- 0.15%. This is a very high BAC. Walking and talking become difficult. Vomiting may begin.
- 0.20-0.29%. Nausea and vomiting are common at this point. Standing and walking may be impossible without help. The sensation of pain decreases, and blackouts may happen.
- 0.30-0.39%. Unconsciousness sets in at this stage, as does the increased chance of death. Increased heart rate, irregular bleeding, and loss of bladder control can occur.
- 0.40% and over. This level of intoxication can result in sudden death.
As you can see, even an amount of alcohol that’s considered legal can impair a person’s ability to drive. That’s why it’s so important to always have a designated driver or a way to get home without getting behind the wheel.
The Consequences of Drinking and Driving in Albuquerque
According to the Traffic Crash Annual Report for New Mexico, there were 2,050 crashes involving alcohol in 2017. While 1,013 only resulted in property damage, 906 caused injuries and 131 were fatal. All in all, 4,626 drivers and vehicle occupants were involved. Of those people, 1,406 were injured and 147 died. More than half of the drunk drivers were males between the ages of 20 to 34.
When someone gets behind the wheel intoxicated, there are a number of predictable effects. Because of the decline in visual function, the ability to track objects and divide attention will decline. They’ll be unable to control the speed of their vehicle and have reduced information processing capabilities.
As a result of their impairment, a driver is more at risk for swerving off the road or into the oncoming traffic lane. Head-on collisions are among the deadliest for all involved. Even a minor crash can result in serious injuries and extensive losses.
Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm Fights for You
If you’ve been the victim of a drunk driver, you’re likely dealing with medical bills, lost wages from time off work, property damage costs, pain and suffering, and more. Our Albuquerque drunk driving accident lawyers are here to provide you with the legal representation you need to recover from your injuries as quickly as possible. We’ll do what it takes to help you get your life back in order.
Filing a personal injury claim takes time, so it’s important to get started as soon as possible after a crash. To learn more about your rights and the legal process, contact our firm today.