Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard
Today, State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard went before the House Transportation Committee and successful revived HB 10, the DWI reform bill that had stalled in that committee last week.
Garcia Richard highlighted the bill’s focus on closing loopholes in existing law and giving judges the tools they need to deal with complicated cases. The bill passed out of the Transportation Committee on a 6-0 vote and now goes to the house Judiciary Committee.
New Mexico has some of the strictest DWI laws in the nation and was one of the first states to adopt a .08 percent blood alcohol limit and require all offenders to use breathalyzers for at least one year after they are convicted.
Garcia Richard discovered that there are certain loopholes that enable serial offenders to continue to drink and drive. For example, if a person is convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol and is sentenced to house arrest, there is no provision for equipping that person with a breathalyzer. In addition, if an offender claims they do not own a car, the judge cannot require them to use a breathalyzer.
Breathalyzers have been shown to be effective methods of preventing recidivism in convicted DWI drivers so it is important that lawmakers close these loopholes, Garcia Richard said.
Last year she introduced a bill that addressed this issue by allowing judges to order the offender to obtain and use a home breathalyzer device that identifies the person providing the sample. This bill has been reviewed by MADD and other citizens groups and found to be an effective solution. It came very close to passing both chambers last session.
House Bill 10 effectively closes the loophole and requires a home breathalyzer device and electronic monitoring for an offender under house arrest.