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New Mexicans call for change for DWI repeat offenders

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ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) – With authorities recording more than a dozen DWI arrests in the Albuquerque area since Christmas Eve, there are more calls for New Mexico to crack down on repeat offenders.

Albuquerque TV station KOB-TV reports that many cases over the past year have involved primary offenses, but officers have seen familiar faces. A woman marked her fifth DWI offense in May after being arrested for driving 103 mph (166 km / h) on Interstate 40. A man marked his seventh DWI arrest in March when he collided with a concrete pillar.

In another case, a 42-year-old woman has been arrested for the seventh time, four of them in the past two years. One of the charges against her was ultimately dismissed because the officer failed to appear in court.

Lindsey Valdez, regional director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said the cases where there appear to be no consequences are those that send a message.


“I think it shows overall that some people really don’t feel any fear in the consequences if there are no consequences for driving under the influence,” she said.

How often does this happen?

“They are isolated, but they are not isolated enough,” said Ahmad Assed, a criminal defense lawyer. And the problem of people falling through the cracks is not new, he said.

“We’ve been talking about this topic for decades and frankly we still find ourselves almost in the same position,” Assed said.

As for the penalty in the event of conviction, a first offense of DWI could result in a minimum of two days behind bars. An eighth offense would be 10 years. However, Assed said that doesn’t mean people spend all that time in jail, as mandatory sentences can be served through an ankle bracelet program or house arrest.

This has led to calls for change from those who have lost loved ones.

“It has an effect on anyone. Growing up without a father is difficult,” said Jackie Copeline, whose father was killed by a repeat drunk driver when she was seven years old.

Copeline recently started a petition calling for stricter enforcement and treatment of DWI.

New Mexico has one of the highest death rates in the United States from binge drinking. State data shows that up to November, nearly a quarter of road deaths in the state were alcohol-related.


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