Alcohol may be a factor in some commercial vehicle crashes

Everyone who has a driver's license in New Mexico has passed driver's training, which means they know that drinking and driving is against the law. According to the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division, at least 40 percent of fatal crashes involve alcohol. While there's no figure about how many crashes with commercial vehicles involve alcohol, it's reasonable to believe at least some of them do. Combine alcohol with large blind spots and other risk factors, and it's clearly a dangerous situation.

In order to protect people on the road from the dangerous affect of alcohol on drivers, New Mexico has laws in place that limit how much alcohol people can legally have in their bodies while driving. Violating that law, either as the person driving a passenger vehicle or a commercial one, could result in both criminal charges and civil lawsuits if there is a crash.

Commercial drivers face a stricter limit to blood alcohol content

In general, the state of New Mexico limits blood alcohol content (BAC) at no more than 0.08 percent. A BAC of 0.08 percent or higher will almost always result in facing driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges. For those under the age of 21, the legal BAC limit decreases to 0.02 percent. Those who operate a commercial truck, however, get held to a different standard.

The legal BAC limit for those operating a commercial vehicle is 0.04 percent, half of the limit for other adult drivers over the age of 21. The idea is to reduce the likelihood of commercial drivers getting behind the wheel after a few drinks and claiming that they didn't know how high their BAC actually was. Those with a commercial license driving a passenger vehicle have the same 0.08 percent BAC limit, but they also face increased penalties, even for a civilian infraction.

What consequences do commercial drivers face for DWI charges?

For those who hold a commercial driver license in New Mexico, any conviction of a DWI offense will impact their professional licensing. A first DWI offense with a conviction or a guilty plea could carry as long as 90 days in jail, result in loss of your standard license for up to a year and incur a fine of as much as $500. In addition, they will be disqualified from holding a commercial license for a full year.

A second offense carries harsher penalties, in more ways than one. Potential jail time increases to up to 364 days in jail, the fine maximum goes up to $1,000 and loss of passenger vehicle driver license increases to two years. More importantly, a second DWI conviction will mean lifetime disqualification from holding a commercial driver license in New Mexico. These serious penalties could mean the end of a career for someone accused of a second DWI offense.

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