In New Mexico, causing the death of another person while behind the wheel can lead to serious criminal charges. This article covers New Mexico's vehicular homicide laws and the penalties you'll face for a conviction.
In New Mexico, a person can be convicted of "vehicular homicide" (sometimes called "vehicular manslaughter") for causing the death of another person by operating a vehicle while:
In other words, there are three different circumstances that can lead to vehicular homicide charges
For purposes of New Mexico's vehicular homicide laws, a motorist is "under the influence" if incapable of safely driving a vehicle because of the substances ingested.
A driver can be convicted of vehicular homicide only if there's proof that the driver was a legal cause of the death. It's not enough to merely show the defendant drove recklessly or while under the influence and someone died—there needs to be a significant link between the driving and the death.
The consequences of a vehicular homicide conviction depend on the circumstances. However, the possible penalties for each type of vehicular homicide are explained below.
Vehicular homicide involving driving under the influence is a second-degree felony. Convicted motorists generally face up to 15 years in prison and a maximum of $12,500 in fines. However, motorists in this category who have at least one prior DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction that occurred within the past ten years are looking at up to 19 years in prison.
Defendants who commit vehicular homicide while driving recklessly are guilty of a third-degree felony. A conviction carries up to six years in prison and a maximum of $5,000 in fines.
Vehicular homicide committed while attempting to evade an officer is a third-degree felony and carries up to six years in prison and a maximum of $5,000 in fines.
Vehicular homicide is a serious crime in New Mexico. If you've been arrested for vehicular homicide—or any other crime—get in contact with a criminal defense attorney right away. The facts of every case are different. An experienced defense attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on the best course of action.