New Mexico governor calls for stricter DWI penalties

| 8/20/2009

In New Mexico, the governor has plans to bring greater penalties down on drunken drivers.

While New Mexico has been able to reduce alcohol-involved fatalities by one-third, Gov. Bill Richardson said it is not enough. The governor wants to do more by increasing penalties and closing loopholes for drunken drivers as part of a package of bills he plans to offer during the 2010 regular session.

“We are making a final, decisive push during my remaining time in office to prevent more alcohol-involved tragedies,” Richardson said in a written statement. “And for those who still don’t get the message, they will face time in jail.”

First-time drunk drivers would face three days of mandatory jail time and $2,500 fines. Currently, those offenders face fines up to $500 without mandatory jail time. Repeat offenders would face increased jail time while a third offense would become a felony. State law now makes a fourth offense a felony.

He also is calling for legislation that would prevent drivers who refuse to provide blood or breath samples from pleading down to a non-driving while intoxicated charge. Electronic monitoring would not be an option in lieu of mandatory jail time for DWI offenders.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Mexico in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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