One of the largest states by geographic size, it is also one of the smaller states by population and definitely by density of population. Although the state is lower than the national average in insurance it is significantly higher in highway fatalities, even though it is serviced by three Interstate Highways. With Albuquerque as the largest city at just over 500,000 and the greater metro area still under a million, congestion rarely plays a part in New Mexico. With a vast area of the state that is rural, the higher fatality rate may be caused by inadequate rural roads.
Reporting an Accident
In New Mexico if there is death, injury or property damage a report must be filed of the accident within 5 days of the accident. The driver, passenger or owner may all make the report, so if you were driving someone else’s vehicle and are injured in the event, the owner or any passenger are expected to make the report for you. Whichever person is capable of notifying the authorities must do so in New Mexico.
After an accident in New Mexico as the driver you are also expected to perform a few duties to ensure the safety of others. First, check for injuries of you and your passengers. If no one is hurt check the injuries of those involved in the other vehicle or any pedestrians. If anyone is hurt, do not attempt to move them and call for EMS immediately. If no one is hurt and your vehicle is still operable, move it out of the flow of traffic.
At this point, you should exchange information for the purpose of making damage claims privately, through insurance or through the courts system at a later date. You should make sure to get full name, address, insurance policy number, license plate, license number and contact information for all parties involved. You should also take pictures of the accident scene to use in negotiations or at court.
Pure Comparative Fault
In New Mexico a pure comparative fault system can generally make the claims process with insurance companies and civil litigation much more complicated. Since a pure comparative fault system allows a person with 99% assigned fault to recover 1% of their damages, claims processes and negotiation. With all but 100% fault cases needing some sort of negotiation process either in an insurance settlement or civil case, recovering damage awards in New Mexico can be a complicated process.
For instance if you are assigned 20% blame of an accident because you were speeding, even if you received the most damage because another driver ran a stop sign, you would still only be entitled to 80% of your award damages because of your own fault. In multiple persons at fault the negotiations can get even more complicated. This is mostly because there is no definitive way to assign blame in these instances. It is generally based on past settlements or case law but there is always room for negotiation, especially in settlements. This is why it is extremely important to hire a car accident attorney in New Mexico.
Demerit System for Traffic Violations
With a traffic violation point system in place in New Mexico you could receive a suspension if you receive just 7-10 points in a 12 month period depending a recommendation from a local judge or magistrate. This license suspension is for 3 months. If you accumulate 12 points in 12 months then you will automatically be given a 12 month suspension.
These penalties are much harsher than many other states so driving within the limits of these point limits is advised. If you are charged with a moving violation, getting a lawyer to plead down in the case can often lower point totals as well, which in the long run is better for you to avoid costly insurance premium increases.
DWI Charges under 0.8%
If you are field tested for sobriety in New Mexico there is a chance the testing and arresting officer could lay a DWI charge even if you test under 0.8% BAC. This is to cover drivers that are clearly impaired but the reason may be due to drugs, an alcohol lightweight or impaired due to prescription or over the counter drugs. For drivers in New Mexico this should serve as a warning that even one drink could result in a DWI charge.
Penalties in New Mexico can be quite harsh in comparison to other states especially in regards to license suspensions, as even the first offense results in a 1 year suspension. A 4th DWI conviction results in an unprecedented lifetime driving ban. These penalties are only the Administrative penalties and are in addition to criminal penalties as well. With fines, jail time, ignition interlock and community service penalties also offering options to the DMV for offenders.
The best choice in New Mexico is to have a designated driver that does not drink and drive.