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Administrative Review Hearings in New Mexico

In New Mexico, any driver whose license is suspended or revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles has the right to file for a hearing within ten days to modify the judgment.  During the hearing that results, the court will examine the facts of the case as well as take testimony from any relevant witnesses or parties.  After such information is collected, the court will decide if the driver’s license should remain revoked or suspended.

A driver who refuses to take a chemical blood test may file a petition for an administrative hearing regarding the revocation of his license (recall that based on the Arkansas implied consent law, all drivers in the state have consented to such chemical testing).  During the hearing, the director of the division of commercial inspection and regulation will review the facts and circumstances of the situation.  The director may conclude that the arresting officer complied with all relevant laws and that the driver of the vehicle made the chemical test refusal.  In such a scenario, the director shall revoke the driver’s license for at least a period of one year.  The director has the further discretion to determine if the convicted driver will retain driving privileges with regard to employment or other commitments.  If the director determines, however, that the arresting officer did not comply with all relevant laws in the arrest, then the driver may be able to avoid the penalties associated with his conviction.

The director will review any evidence with a substantial connection to the crime and consider it relevant to the proceeding.  This includes evidence offered by expert witnesses and lay witnesses alike.  The court has the discretion to admit the opinions of expert testimony, while lay-witness opinions must further the understanding of the testimony or an issue of fact involved in the case.  In other words, the court is more skeptical of the comments made by random witnesses on the scene as opposed to expert witnesses.

If a driver’s hearing is unsuccessful and the license remains revoked, the driver is entitled to reinstatement at the end of the period of revocation.  In order to have a driver’s license reinstated, the driver must reapply for a license and pass the necessary examinations again, including vision and road tests.  In addition, the driver must show proof of completion of an alcohol education program as well as pay reinstatement fees and show proof of valid auto insurance.

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