SANTA FE — Today, Gov. Susana Martinez announced the launch of @NMDWIWatch, a Twitter handle that keeps the public informed about how drunk driving cases are handled in six targeted counties.
The Twitter handle is the latest phase of the Governor’s court monitoring initiative that places citizens inside courtrooms in Bernalillo, Dona Ana, McKinley, Rio Arriba, San Juan, and Santa Fe Counties to shed light on how DWI cases are handled.
“As a former prosecutor, and now as Governor, I’ve seen all too often the lives and families that have been shattered by DWI, and too often our justice system fails us by going easy on drunk drivers,” Martinez said. “These court monitors will help New Mexicans see firsthand how DWI cases are handled.”
Court monitors have been placed in the six counties across the state with the highest DWI dismissal rates. The court monitors collect data on how DWI cases are handled throughout the legal process and submit periodic reports on the findings. The New Mexico Department of Transportation will use this information to keep the public informed on social media through the Twitter handle @NMDWIWatch.
In April, the New Mexico Department of Transportation awarded Mothers Against Drunk Driving a two-year, $800,000 contract to place monitors in courtrooms in certain counties to monitor DWI hearings. In addition to ensuring court system is kept accountable in the process, the initiative will help the state identify trends to improve the DWI adjudication process.
After months of collecting data, reports show that 34 percent of the closed cases were dismissed and 60 percent of offenders were found guilty of DWI. Currently, the court monitors are tracking 345 pending cases.
“DWI has a devastating impact on families across the state,” NMDOT Secretary Tom Church said. “Ensuring our roads are safe is a top priority. By keeping the public informed on what is going on in the court process through social media the court monitoring program will help keep drunk drivers off our roads making them safer for our families.”
The court monitoring program is the latest in a series of executive initiatives from Martinez to combat drunk driving in New Mexico. Other initiatives include targeting repeat offenders and the establishments that over-serve them, and an ongoing roundup of DWI fugitives. Additionally, earlier this year Martinez signed legislation that cracks down on the worst DWI repeat offenders and substantially increases penalties for drunk drivers who kill someone on the road. In fact, the new penalty, which went into effect July 1, is one of the toughest in the region.