Although alcohol-related offenses are a major concern in Colorado and New Mexico, many people don’t realize that if a criminal charge involves a car (like DUI or DWAI), there are two different legal processes that you will have to deal with. A criminal case will likely be started for violation of the law, but there will also be an administrative case to deal with revocation or suspension of your driver’s license.
In Colorado, a person must request an Express Consent hearing with the Department of Revenue within 7 days of being arrested or cited with an alcohol- or drug-related offense. In New Mexico, you have 10 days to request an Implied Consent hearing with the Motor Vehicle Division. These administrative hearings are similar to going to criminal court and will be based on the evidence collected when the person is arrested, but they are in addition to a criminal case and subject to different rules.
While there are differences between the criminal and administrative processes, both will apply the Express Consent law (in Colorado) or Implied Consent Act (in New Mexico), depending on where the person is arrested. In Colorado, the Express Consent law (C.R.S. § 42-4-1301.1) states that by receiving a driver’s license, you give permission for the police or other law enforcement agencies to take chemical tests to determine blood-alcohol or other drug levels, if they suspect you of driving under the influence. In New Mexico, the Implied Consent Act (N.M.S.A. § 66-8-105) is fundamentally the same as Colorado’s law.
If you refuse to take chemical tests for alcohol or drugs, these laws allow the department of revenue to revoke your driver's license, even if they don’t have evidence of alcohol or drugs. The amount of time a person loses their license may also be longer if they refuse to take chemical tests than if they were convicted of a DUI. However, that depends on the specific facts of your case.
Regardless, alcohol- and drug-related traffic offenses can result in fines, court cost, drug education classes, inter-lock devises, and restrictions or loss of your driver’s license, both in criminal court and in the administrative hearing. But, what is important to remember is that you must proactively request an administrative hearing to challenge the revocation of your driver’s license, and that you must go through both the criminal and administrative processes.