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New Mexico Alcohol Laws

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Retail liquor stores, rather than state-owned ABC stores, sell alcoholic beverages in New Mexico. Alcohol may not be sold before noon on Sunday.

Legal Age for Drinking/Serving Alcohol

You must be 21 to consume alcohol, to work as a bartender, and to sell or transport alcohol. However, at 19 years of age a person can work in a restaurant that sells alcohol.

Open Container Laws

No alcohol may be consumed by a driver or passengers in a vehicle, and therefore any previously opened bottles must be transported in the trunk of the car.

BAC Limits

A driver is considered to be ‘per se intoxicated’ under the law if a chemical test (blood, breath, or urine) indicates a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. Proof the BAC is all that is required to charge a driver with DUI (driving under the influence).

A driver with a BAC at the time of arrest that is .16 percent or more over the legal limit of .08 percent will receive harsher punishment.

A driver under 21 years of age testing positive with a BAC of .02 percent or more can be charged with DUI under the ‘zero tolerance laws.’


‘Implied consent laws’ require drivers to take breath, blood, or urine testing for intoxication when requested by a law enforcement officer. Refusing to cooperate incurs penalties that can include mandatory suspension of a driving license for up to a year.

In New Mexico, for the first DUI offense the mandatory suspension is 90 days; for the second and third offenses the penalty is at the discretion of the courts. Suspension of a driver’s license falls under the jurisdiction of the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).

Free Online DUI Case EvaluationThe penalty of vehicle confiscation for DUI is a not a penalty option in New Mexico. With a second conviction for DUI, however, the courts can order that an ignition interlock device be installed in a driver’s car at the driver’s expense. Mandatory alcohol abuse education and treatment can be required.

DUI is considered a felony after the third conviction.