ALBUQUERQUE — Gov. Martinez signed Senate Bill 118 Tuesday, which cracks down on the worst repeat DWI offenders and substantially increases penalties for drunk drivers who kill someone on the road.
In fact, the new penalty for driving drunk and killing someone will be one of the highest in the region.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes (R-Albuquerque) and Senator George Munoz (D-Gallup), makes it a second-degree felony to be convicted of eight or more DWIs, increasing mandatory sentencing from 2 years to 10 years, with a maximum sentence of 12 years.
The bill also increases penalties for vehicular homicide while under the influence from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony, allowing judges to increase sentences from six years to 15 years in prison – two-and-a-half times the current penalty.
“Enacting tough legislation to crack down on repeat drunk drivers is the right thing to do, and frankly, the Legislature hasn’t done enough of it over the years,” Martinez said. “Too many families have suffered pain, loss, and tragedy from those who make the reckless decision to drink and drive. This is tough legislation that works hand-in-hand with what my administration is doing to ENDWI in New Mexico.”
Martinez continued, “Throughout my career, and during my time as Governor, I have met with the families of victims in New Mexico whose sons and daughters were killed in horrific alcohol-related crashes on our highways; increasing our penalty for driving drunk and killing someone to one of the highest in our region is absolutely necessary.”
This legislation builds on Martinez’s recent executive initiatives to crack down on DWI throughout New Mexico. These include: saturation patrols on our deadliest highways; targeting repeat offenders and the establishments that over-serve them; a court monitoring program that will place citizens inside courtrooms in five counties to shed light on how DWI cases are handled; and an ongoing roundup of DWI fugitives.
Other DWI initiatives that the Governor called for the Legislature to pass included: holding accountable those who drive drunk with a license suspended or revoked due to DWI; cracking down on those who recklessly toss the keys to someone whose license has been suspended or revoked due to a DWI; and expanding New Mexico’s habitual offender laws to include felony DWIs. These pieces of legislation passed the House with large majorities and were not passed by the Senate.