Fight Traffic Ticket in New Mexico
Plead Not Guilty to Your NM Citation
To begin fighting your New Mexico traffic citation, you'll need to plead not guilty to the municipal court in charge of your case.
The specific court you'll need to visit will be on your ticket. If you've misplaced your ticket, take a look at our page on lost NM traffic tickets for guidance.
You MUST show up to court on the date printed on your ticket for your arraignment. At arraignment, you'll enter your plea of not guilty.
After you've pleaded not guilty, the court will assign you a date to return for your pre-trial conference OR trial before a judge. If you miss any of your court dates, you could face penalties like:
- Driver license suspension.
- Warrant for your arrest.
If you need to reschedule a court appearance OR still have questions about entering a not guilty plea, contact the NM municipal court in charge of your traffic case.
What a Not Guilty Plea Means
When you submit a plea of not guilty, you're exercising your legal right to stand before a New Mexico judge and make a case for your innocence.
When you plead not guilty, you're guaranteeing that you:
- Can allot the necessary time to appearing in court, possibly on multiple occasions.
- Understand points could be added to your record.
- Know jail time could come as a result of a serious violation, like DUI or DWI.
If you're still on the fence about pleading not guilty, review our helpful guide, When to Fight a Traffic Ticket.
Fighting Your NM Citation in Court
The steps to fighting your New Mexico citation in municipal court could consist of the following:
- Pre-trial conference.
- Pre-trial conferences are typically only reserved for DWI/DUI cases.
- Trial before a NM judge.
Consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney PRIOR to your court date. If you choose to represent yourself, you'll need to be able to properly follow the procedures of New Mexico traffic court.
The NM municipal court will appoint you counsel if:
- You can prove indigence and the inability to hire a traffic lawyer on your own.
- A conviction could result in imprisonment.
If you want to learn more about which type of traffic charges warrant hiring an attorney, check out our outline of when to hire a traffic ticket lawyer.
At the pre-trial conference, you (or your lawyer) and the New Mexico state prosecutor will attempt to work out a plea agreement. A plea agreement usually requires:
- Changing your plea to guilty.
- Lighter penalties for your charges.
If a plea agreement can be agreed upon, you won't have to go to trial. However, if you can't reach a plea agreement, the municipal court will assign you a date to return for trial.
If you plead guilty to your traffic charges, your auto insurance rates could go up significantly. BEFORE accepting a plea agreement, make sure you're fully informed on how traffic violations can affect your car insurance.
Trial Before a NM Judge
When you go to trial before a New Mexico judge, the process typically includes the following:
- Both you (or your attorney) and the NM state prosecution will present opening arguments.
- Presentation of:
- Cross-examinations and rebuttals.
- Each side presents closing arguments.
- Judge's verdict.
- If the judge finds you guilty, they'll issue your sentence.
Outcomes of Fighting Your Traffic Ticket
The outcomes of fighting your NM traffic citation can have long-term positive OR negative effects on your life. The judge's verdict will determine the ease or difficulty of your future.
If you're convicted of your traffic violations, the sentence you face could include of any of the following penalties:
- Points added to your driving record.
- Driver license suspension.
- You'll be expected to pay all fines on the day you're found guilty, though the court may allow you to pay in installments if you can prove a lack of personal finances.
- Community service.
- Jail time.
NOTE: If you hold a valid commercial driver's license (CDL) federal law requires that you notify your employer of traffic violations within 30 days of conviction.
File an Appeal
If you would like to appeal a court's conviction, you'll need to file a Notice of Appeal (Form 9-607) within 15 days of receiving the judge's verdict. File the appeal with the NM district court in the county where your case is being handled.
Taking a NM defensive driving course can REDUCE the amount your insurance rates go up after you've received a ticket.
After paying traffic fines, give your wallet a break and consider enrolling in a defensive driving class.
Not Guilty Verdict
If the NM judge finds you not guilty of the traffic charges, you can look forward to:
- All charges being dismissed.
- No additional points on your driving record.
- Car insurance rates remaining the same.
- No penalties or fines to deal with.
After receiving the judge's verdict, it's important to check on your driving record. Any errors on your record could lead to serious issues, including unnecessary stress, costs, and penalties down the road.