You Might Want To Skip The Cartwheels During Your Field Sobriety Test

field sobriety testIf you’ve ever been stopped for suspected drunk driving, you’ll know that standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) are a common way police officers use to assess someone they believe is driving under the influence.

During the traffic stop they will generally perform up to three SFSTs: the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), one-leg stand tests, and the walk-and-turn. Each test is designed to see whether or not alcohol is affecting a driver’s hand-eye coordination, reflexes, and motor skills.

Police officers generally stick to these three field sobriety tests, so imagine how surprised they were when a drunk driver added her own take on a field sobriety test during a routine traffic stop. The driver, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was stopped by local police, and when they asked her to exit her vehicle she was unsteady on her feet.

That’s when the officer asked her to walk in a straight line, and when she tried and failed she decided to a do a cartwheel instead. Not only that, but she did several cartwheels despite police asking her to stop. One of those cartwheels ended with her leg striking the officer, so on top of being charged with aggravated drunk driving, she was also charged with battery of a police officer. All of this because she decided to put her own twist on a field sobriety test.

Alcohol has a way of making a bad idea seem like a great one at the time, and this is a good lesson for any driver who thinks that taking liberties with a field sobriety test is a good idea. Saying no to a field sobriety test might not have the same repercussions as saying no to a breathalyzer test, but not following the police’s rules for these tests can land you in hot water all the same.

New Mexico Drunk Driving Law Would Ban Offenders From Drinking

New Mexico drunk driving lawWhen you’re trying to take on a task as difficult as putting a full and final stop to drunk driving, there’s a lot of different laws that may get passed: some easy to understand and some controversial.

Take New Mexico for example: with more and more states getting on board with all offender ignition interlock laws, passing a New Mexico ignition interlock law was a fairly easy decision. Now they’ve taken a step into controversial territory by trying to pass a ban that would result in New Mexico drunk driving laws being among harshest in the entire country.

A recent proposal set in front of the New Mexico House committee would require the banning of alcohol for all of New Mexico’s repeat drunk drivers. Not only would it restrict alcohol purchases for anyone convicted of New Mexico drunk driving for a third time, the ban would restrict them for life. For these offenders there would be no chance to appeal the ban for ten years.

The proposed law was slightly more lenient for second time offenders: anyone convicted for a second New Mexico drunk driving offense would not be allowed to purchase or consume alcohol for one year.

Although the proposal did have support, a vote was recently taken and the bill was tabled indefinitely. The lawmakers behind the bill felt that New Mexico drunk driving laws needed to change to include this measure because the state has one of the highest rates of alcohol-related deaths in the entire country, but opponents saw a problem with enforcement of such a law.

It may be simple to pass certain drunk driving laws, but it’s not always easy to enforce them. Just like it’s a big task enforcing ignition interlock penalties for all offenders, it would also be extremely difficult to restrict and monitor alcohol sales and the consumption of alcohol for these convicted drunk drivers.

This ban is an idea that stems from a good place: a strong desire to end drunk driving, and although it may not work now in New Mexico, it could be something New Mexico lawmakers bring back in the future.

Judges And Drunk Drivers In New Mexico Monitored By MADD

drunk drivers in New MexicoNew Mexico has no tolerance for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Over the past few years drunk drivers in New Mexico have been penalized harshly thanks to strict drunk driving laws, and now the state wants to put judges in hot seat too.

New Mexico state officials have launched a program where they will pay Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to monitor drunk driving cases in five New Mexico counties with the biggest drunk driving problems. MADD will attend the trail, record the details on the sentences given, and report back to the state. The state will then identify repeat offenders and judges in a series of tweets shared on social media.

Why target judges? The governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, feels as though judges aren’t cracking down on drunk drivers in New Mexico with repeat DWI violations. She doesn’t want judges to let anyone off easy, and by keeping eyes and ears in the courtrooms, the state can hold judges accountable.

Drunk drivers in New Mexico aren’t the only offenders being monitored by MADD. The organization provides court monitoring service for other states, and in exchange for their time and attention, MADD New Mexico has been given a two-year contract worth $800,000. MADD provides support to anyone who has lost someone to drunk driving or has been injured in a drunk driving crash, and that money can go a long way to supporting victims and victims families.

Not everyone thinks targeting judges is a good idea. Opponents of the program have stated that its unethical to target judges and that it puts pressure on them to hand out a harsh sentence no matter what the circumstances.

But a program like this is a great way to get the profiles of repeat offenders out there, and it could be an important step in enforcing New Mexico DWI penalties and stopping repeat offenders from making the choice to drink and drive again.

New Mexico Drunk Driving Deaths At All Time Low

new mexico drunk driving deathsOne recent news topic coming out of New Mexico is a steady flow of tragic drunk driving deaths shared online. From driving while intoxicated (DWI) crashes in the state to repeat offenders arrested for their ninth or more DWI, there’s always something new to report because New Mexico has been a leader in drunk driving deaths in the United States for years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 51.2 people per 100,000 people in New Mexico that lost their lives thanks to someone making the choice to drink and drive.

Although the host of drunk driving deaths have been well documented, there is good news on the horizon. Governor Susana Martinez announced recently that deaths in the last year were at an all time low. There were 122 deaths related to drunk driving in 2015, and that’s a 28 percent decrease from the year before. If you go all the way back to the 1970’s and compare it to 2015, you’ll see a decrease in drunk driving deaths by 70%.

This latest announcement from the Governor is happy news when you consider statements released during this year’s New Mexico Legislative session. There were comments that the state wasn’t doing enough to fight drunk driving, and that drunk driving deaths were such a huge problem in the state that they needed to focus on what was working and pass new laws to crack down on offenders.

One of the programs working in New Mexico is the ignition interlock program. Any offender charged with DWI in the state is required to install an ignition interlock, and the devices are one of the reason why drunk driving deaths are decreasing. That fact is backed up by the recent report by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) citing how ignition interlocks have stopped 1.77 million drunk drivers from driving drunk.

Another measure designed to crack down on drunk driving is Senate Bill 118. Recently signed into law, it makes a DWI a second-degree felony for anyone convicted of eight or more drunk driving offenses. Now the offender will serve prison sentences of 12 years instead of the six years that was mandated for chronic offenders before the law.

Although New Mexico drunk driving deaths still rank higher than the national average, seeing that drop over one year shows that the state is doing something right. Until they reach zero drunk driving deaths, they’ll keep trying.

 

New Mexico Leading The Way For Drunk Driving Deaths

naked woman in new mexico avoids drunk driving deathNew Mexico has been leading the way in the United States, but not in a way the state might like. It has the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths by a huge margin, and it’s been at the top of the heap for drunk driving deaths since 1997. 2014 stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 51.2 per 100,000 people in the population of New Mexico lost their lives due to alcohol.

Statistics might give you an idea of what’s going on in the state, but it’s still pretty shocking when you see what’s happening on the roads of New Mexico every day. Take a recent case in Santa Fe County for example: police pursued a drunk driver cruising at 100 mph down a busy highway, watching as she ran a light and was hit by another vehicle. With her vehicle totaled on the side of the highway, you can imagine the shock the police officers felt when she jumped out of the car and ran across the highway completely naked. It was all caught on dashcam,and you can see the video here.

Police apprehended the naked woman, and they had to restrain her and cover her with a tarp before putting her in the back of the squad car. She resisted arrest at the county jail by attacking the officers, and although she blamed her behavior on seizures and a cyst in her brain, she later admitted to drinking whiskey and taking drugs. As for why she was driving naked, she told the police officers she was hot.

Believe it or not, it’s legal to drive naked in most parts of the country. What is illegal is driving under the influence. With a crash this violent, she should feel fortunate she’s alive and able to drive naked another day, if and when she ever gets her license back.

Life After A DWI In New Mexico

Life-After-DWINew Mexico has a few mentions in the long history of drinking and driving in the United States. It ranks fourth out of all the states for finding new ways to cut down on the number of people who are drinking and driving, and it boasts the most ignition interlock devices installed per capita.

Although it’s not the toughest state when it comes to dealing with a driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction, but it’s definitely a place you don’t want to be charged with drinking and driving.

Here’s a look at what life is like after a DWI in New Mexico

There are still some states where you won’t go to jail after a DWI or driving under the influence (DUI) conviction, but New Mexico isn’t one of them. From the moment you’re pulled over and fail a breathalyzer test, it’s only going to be a matter of time before you go to jail.

Jail time for first offenders in New Mexico can last up to 90 days, and during those three months behind bars you’ll have a lot of time to ponder exactly how you’re going to live without your driver’s license. For the crime of drinking and driving, you’re going to have your driver’s license suspended for a period of one year, and in addition to the $500 fine, those cabs and buses will start to make a dent in your pocket book.

If you want to drive again, you’ll have one more hurdle to overcome—every DWI offender in New Mexico, even first time offenders, must install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. There are no loopholes to get around an ignition interlock either, and a new bill put forth by the local government asked that any DWI offender with an ignition interlock must also have an ignition interlock designation on their driver’s license. That way, if police stop you, they’ll know you’re supposed to be driving with one.

If you don’t want to find out what life is like after a DWI in New Mexico, don’t drink and drive in the state.

Thanks To SIP Laws, Your Server Could Be Responsible If you Drive Drunk

drunk driving For some people, heading out to a bar or pub for a night means drinking to excess. Instead of having one or two drinks, they order 5, 6, or more, and it’s safe to say that when most people drink that much, they’re well over the legal limit to drive by the time they leave for the night. Because alcohol has a way of making you lose your own good judgement, does it become someone else’s responsibility to make you stop drinking when you’ve crossed the line and could potentially drink and drive? As it turns out, it does.

SIP Laws, named for prohibiting ‘sales to intoxicated people,’ make it a criminal act for servers to sell alcohol to someone who is clearly intoxicated. With the exception of Florida and Nevada, all states have SIP laws designed to penalize establishments who over serve alcohol. The type of charge, whether it is criminal or administrative, depends on the violation.

A great example of what can happen if you overserve alcohol comes courtesy of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department’s Alcohol and Gaming Division – they penalized four businesses for overserving after they deemed them responsible for four separate driving while intoxicated (DWI) incidents from 2012 on. The four paid fines of $44,000 combined and have all had their liquor licenses suspended temporarily.

One of the spots, Ojos Locos Sports Cantina, was charged after a man spent the night drinking there and then left with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that was double the legal limit. He drove away, crashed his car, and died shortly after. The Ojos Locos was required to pay the state $12,000 and received an 8-day suspension of their liquor license.

SIP laws are in place so servers think beyond the idea that someone is just another tab during the course of a busy night. That extra drink or two you serve could be someone’s last, and as those restaurants and pubs in New Mexico can now attest, there are severe repercussions if you overserve alcohol.

The Lowdown On The HB 86 Ignition Interlock Bill

ignition interlock New Mexico isn’t a state that’s content to sit back and watch citizens die from drunk driving crashes. There has been a steady stream of new bills coming in to improve driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws, and the latest two bills will toughen up ignition interlock laws and clamp down on an offender’s drinking.

HB 86 is the newest bill in New Mexico to pass the House of Representatives. It would require a convicted drunk driver to keep his or her ignition interlock for a length of time based on how drunk they were the night they were arrested. If passed, it will definitely be a case of the punishment fitting the crime.

The other bill, HB 30, would require anyone convicted for driving while intoxicated and who has a state issued ignition interlock license to be banned from purchasing alcohol. A line would be added to their driver’s license stating ‘No Alcohol Sales’ and that would let anyone who sees it, whether that be a server or grocery store, to know that the person may not purchase alcohol.

New Mexico has been working on their DWI laws since 2005, and it’s estimated that the state’s drunk driving deaths have decreased by 33% since the introduction of ignition interlock devices and strict laws. If you’re a first offender in New Mexico and you’re arrested for DWI, you’ll lose your driver’s license for a year, spend up to 90 days in jail, pay fines up to $500, and you must install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle you drive for one year.

Both of these bills are on their way to the Senate, and if passed, New Mexico roads will be much safer for all those who drive on them. For more information on ignition interlock devices in New Mexico, visit Guardian Interlock’s New Mexico state page.

 

 

 

MADD’s Walk Of Sorrow Rallies Against Drunk Drivers

interlock deviceWhether they know someone who has been killed in a driving while intoxicated (DWI) crash or they have narrowly escaped one themselves, there are a lot of reasons why people step up and join others to fight back against drunk driving in their state. Take New Mexico for example – although they have strong DWI laws, the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) feels as though much more could be done to stop repeat offenders and keep drunk drivers off the roads, and that’s why MADD is encouraging people in the state to join in for events like sixth-annual DWI March of Sorrow/March of Hope.

Held on February 17th, the silent walk brought together anyone who wished to honor someone who lost his or her life to drunk driving. Coordinated by AAA New Mexico and MADD, the organizers asked everyone who attended to take AAA’s pledge to drive drug and alcohol free.

breathalyzerThe numbers of people marching may be small in comparison to the amount of lives lost to DWI, but walks like the DWI March of Sorrow/March of Hope come across to lawmakers loud and clear. New Mexico DWI laws are currently among the toughest in the country. They have an all offender ignition interlock law requiring first and repeat offenders to install an ignition interlock for a length of time, and first offenders are also required to do up to 90 days in jail, lose their license for one year, and pay fines up to $500.

You don’t have to be over the legal limit of .08 to be charged with DWI in New Mexico either – officers can charge you with DWI if they feel you are impaired to the slightest degree, and you’ll be subject to the same penalties as someone who registered a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08.

A march can’t bring back a loved one lost in a drunk driving crash, but it can give people a voice and send a message to lawmakers. For more information on New Mexico’s DWI laws, take a look at Guardian Interlock’s New Mexico state page.

Ignition Interlock And DWI Laws In New Mexico

ignition interlock The state of New Mexico passed an all offender ignition interlock law in 2005, and since that time they’ve recorded a 40% drop in deaths related to driving while impaired (DWI).

To see a further reduction in DWI related crashes and deaths, one state representative has tabled a unique bill – if passed, HB 30 would require anyone with an ignition interlock restriction to have a line stating ‘No Alcohol Sales’ on their driver’s license, then they would be unable to purchase or drink alcohol anywhere it is served in the state.

The current DWI laws in New Mexico require first offenders to pay a steep price for drinking and driving. If you are a first DWI offender in New Mexico, you will receive the following fines and penalties:

  • Jail time of up to 90 days
  • Fines up to $500
  • Driver’s license suspension for a period of one year
  • A mandatory ignition interlock installed in any vehicle you drive

Second DWI offenders in New Mexico receive:

  • Jail time ranging from 96 hours up to 364 days
  • Fines payable of a minimum $500 up to $1,000
  • A driver’s license suspension for a period of 2 years
  • Attendance at a Drug and Alcohol Abuse Screening program
  • A mandatory ignition interlock installed in any vehicle you drive

Although first and second offenders receive ignition interlock devices and other stiff penalties, it’s repeat offenders who pay an extremely high price for drinking and driving in New Mexico. Five time or more DWI offenders will receive:

  • Jail time of 1 to 2 years
  • Fines payable up to $5,000
  • A lifetime driver’s license suspension with a review after 5 years
  • A lifetime ignition interlock installation if the offender is able to successfully apply for a restricted license

With the most ignition interlock devices installed per capita in the United States and a potential bill preventing any DWI offender from purchasing alcohol, New Mexico is a great example of a state taking control of their drunk driving problem.

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