DWI Resource Center

a blog from the DWI Resource Center

DWI Sentencing Checklist

Posted by dwiresourcecenter on October 20, 2011

By Linda Atkinson
Executive Director
DWI Resource Center

Here’s a helpful tool for New Mexico judges….do they have what it takes to use it wisely?

The DWI Sentencing Checklist below should be reviewed and utilized by every judge in New Mexico that sentences DWI offenders. The checklist was put together by the National Center for State Courts and National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration.


DWI Sentencing Checklist[1]

The table below summarizes the evidence concerning various DWI sentencing options















First Conviction











(≥90 days; 30 days hard)
Reduces alcohol-related fatalities 6%-19% (administrative license revocation) One study showed it does not cause employment problems.

Vehicle Actions (For Very High BAC’s)



Reduces recidivism by 40%-70%. Immobilization may be more cost-effective.
Alcohol ignition interlocks


Effective while on vehicle.


Breath test failures in first few weeks are best predictor of recidivism.
License plate impoundment Shown to be effective in MN. More cost-efficient than impoundment
                          Assessment and Rehabilitation
Treatment as appropriate to problem Reduces recidivism by 7%-9%. Should be paid by the offender when possible
                                     Sentencing Options
Electronic monitoring home confinement Effective alternative to jail. Reduces recidivism by 33%. Can be self-sufficient if paid by the offender
Fines No studies of effectiveness found. Sometimes used to pay for programs.




(Repeat Offender)







(Repeat Offender)





Suspension/revocation (≥ 1 year) 30-90 days hard Remaining days on restricted license/work permit. No studies found on the effects of license suspension on repeat offenders. General deterrent effect of 6%-19%.


Studies indicate 50%-70% of offenders continue to drive to some extent
                                        Vehicle Actions


Reduces recidivism by 40%-70%. Immobilization may be more cost-effective.
Alcohol ignition interlocks


Reduces recidivism while on vehicle.


Breath test failures in first few weeks are best predictor of recidivism.
License plate impoundment Shown to reduce recidivism in MN. More cost-efficient than impoundment.

Assessment and Rehabilitation

Mandatory assessment of drinking problem and mandatory treatment


Reduces recidivism by 7%-9%.


Should be paid by the offender when possible.


Sentencing Options

Electronic monitoring and home confinement Reduces recidivism by 33%. Can be self-sufficient if paid by the offender
Intensive supervision probation Reduces recidivism by 50%. Should be at least partially funded by the offender
Special DWI facilities Reduces recidivism by 75%.  
Day reporting center Integrates offender back into society. More cost-effective than jail.
Fines, reinstatement fees No studies on effectiveness found Helps pay for costs of other sanctions.
DWI court (e.g., frequent contact with judge; intensive supervision probation; treatment; random alcohol/drug testing; lifestyle changes; positive reinforcement) Some courts reporting reductions in recidivism by 50% or greater. Multiple funding sources available. NHTSA and the Bureau of Justice Assistance have a joint evaluation underway.


There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
– Elie Wiesel

[1] The Courts’ Role in Reducing the Incidence of impaired Driving, a resource for general jurisdiction court judges, National Center for State Courts and National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Misperceptions about DWI Sentencing

Posted by dwiresourcecenter on October 12, 2011

By Linda Atkinson
Executive Director
DWI Resource Center

Career drinking drivers……way too many of them are out there.

Over the years I have analyzed sentencing data, observed sentencings in the courtrooms and performed many case studies. I believe there has always been a misperception among the general public about the sentences DWI offenders receive versus what sentences could actually be given according to the current law.

A (true) first DWI offense (non-aggravated) allows up to 90 days in jail and up to a $500 fine, which are never given in our courts, rather the most common sentence is just the mandatory sanctions of DWI School, ignition interlock (and that might not happen If the offender says he doesn’t have a car or won’t be driving), alcohol screening, and 24 of hours community service.

If the offender is actually convicted of an aggravated 1st offense there is a mandatory 48 hours jail, however, the majority of DWI (true) 1st offenders are pled down to non-aggravated and no jail other than time in jail when first arrested is served. The law also mandates 48 hours jail time if the offender fails to complete all sanctions, again, in practice this does not happen as it should. The one court where I observed the judges actually imposing the 48 hours jail for failure to complete the sentence was the Santa Fe magistrate court – very impressive. I just wish ALL the courts followed suit.

With a DWI second offense (non-aggravated) the law allows up to 364 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. And once again the most common sentence will be just the mandatory minimum sanctions required by law: four days in jail, a $500 fine, alcohol screening and treatment, 48 hours of community service, 2 years using a ignition interlock (and that might not happen If the offender says he doesn’t have a car or won’t be driving). If an offender is convicted of an aggravated 2nd offense there is an additional mandatory four days jail time. If the offender fails to complete the sentence there is to be a mandatory seven days.

Case Study of a ‘Career Drinking Driver’

 Let’s examine the case of F. Q., who, according to his driver’s license was a Hobbs resident for all the DWI incidents researched and listed below:

  • 1st arrest,  Santa Fe,  April 28, 1989          Municipal Court
    • No disposition info.
  • 2nd arrest,  Santa Fe,  December 24, 1998  Municipal Court
    • Conviction, (Sentence unknown – assume 1st offender program)
  • 3rd arrest,  Santa Fe, February 26, 2000[1]    Municipal Court
    • No disposition info
  • 4th arrest,Grants,  January 6, 2004    Magistrate Court
    • Pled to DWI 1st conviction, BAC .19, mandatory minimum sanctions imposed, did not complete 24 hrs. CS or install ignition interlock, court lost jurisdiction; no penalties for non-compliance.
  • 5th arrest,Grants, December 26, 2007  Magistrate Court
    • Pled to non-aggravated DWI 3rd conviction, BAC .27, Mandatory minimum sanctions imposed
  • 6th arrest,Grants, January 12, 2008      Municipal Court
    • Pled to DWI conviction, sentence to be served concurrent with his conviction on the non-aggravated 3rd DWI (see above DWI 5th)
  • 7th arrest,Hobbs, October 17, 2009      Municipal Court
    • Pled to DWI (unknown to which level) sentence (unknown)
  • 8th arrest,Hobbs, November 30, 2009   District Court
    • Pled to DWI 4th conviction, BAC .32, sentenced to 18 months in DOC.

Prior to his 5th DWI arrest and conviction, it appears no significant sanctions were imposed (4 days jail time and a $500 fine on his 4th arrest, yet non-compliant on two of the other sanctions imposed). In his 6th DWI arrest, the court basically ‘combined’ the sentence with the 5th DWI arrest judgment and the sentence was to run concurrent. On March 10, 2009 he “met all obligations” (as noted in the (nmcourts.gov) website case look up).  Mr. Q evidently could not curtail his drinking and driving. He again is arrested on Oct. 17, 2009 in Hobbs and cited into the Municipal court and convicted on Nov. 16, 2009. This author could not ascertain the sentence, but it is very clear that he was out drinking and driving, yet again, as he was arrested on Nov. 30, 2009 by a Lea County Sheriff’s deputy. He is charged with his DWI 6th offense and pleads guilty to a 4th offense DWI on April 15, 2010 in District Court. Q is sentenced to 18 months confinement (given 130 days credit for time served prior to sentencing), one year of parole after release, pay various fees, ignition interlock for life (the mandatory minimums of screening and treatment did not appear to be ordered).  As of this report date (3/2010), Mr. Q had served his incarceration (in the Department of Corrections(DOC) – inmates earn meritorious deductions – approx. one day served is equal to one day off sentence) and is currently under the supervision of the DOC, Parole division in Hobbs, where he presumably is residing.

There will be many more of these cases in the weeks to come.

If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got. (Anon)

[1] Data is drawn from February 2011 NM Motor Vehicle Division records, as reprocessed by the UNM Division of Government Research for the New Mexico Traffic Safety Bureau

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Will the ignition interlock save us from ourselves?…the future. Part 2

Posted by dwiresourcecenter on September 4, 2011

By Linda Atkinson
Executive Director
DWI Resource Center

Will we see a day when the vehicles we drive have the ability to not start if it detects the driver is intoxicated? Maybe … Maybe not …

On Aug. 10, 2011 Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) conducted a Congressional field hearing at the UNM Law School. It was titled: “Fighting Drunk Driving: Lessons Learned in New Mexico.”  This field hearing was held for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which has a bill (Research of Alcohol Detection Systems for Stopping Alcohol-related Fatalities Everywhere or the ROADS SAFE Act) pending before it that would authorize $12 million annually for five years (total $60 million) to continue research and development of a Driver Alcohol Detection System (DADSS).   The goal is a non-intrusive alcohol detection system, something that requires no effort (not like the ignition interlocks convicted drunk drivers must install and require the driver to blow into the device to start a car). It’s too early to know what the technology will be; it could be anything from a system that can read a finger when it touches a steering wheel to a mechanism that detects the presence of alcohol from a driver’s normal breathing. It will not be mandatory but rather an option for new car buyers and would be set at the .08 BAC limit.

The testimony presented at the August hearing was limited to the invited official witnesses which included local, state and federal presenters. The hearing agenda is included in the testimony document and, my apologies; it contains some of my notes taken during the hearing.

What was interesting to me as I listened to the testimony was that some of the witnesses spoke the truth as they know it and others spoke the truth as was told to them and a couple spoke the truth from their first-hand experiences – particularly Chief Williams and Dr. Cameron Crandall.   They are on the frontlines when it comes to the dealing with DWI offenders and victims, from the law enforcement and medical perspective. One of the things Chief Williams said rang very true,

“The advances in vehicle safety and technology can only do so much when an impaired person decides to drive drunk,” Williams said.

Dr. Crandall spoke of the alcohol-related crash deaths and the hundreds of injuries each year in New Mexico.

“It is important to recognize the contribution that even small amounts of alcohol have in casing impairment,” Crandall said.

He summed it up with his closing statement.

“No one effort is sufficient. It is the combination of many strategies that will continue to reduce the impact of drunk driving in New Mexico,” he said.

I am a fan of the ignition interlock, however, it is not the panacea many are lead to believe. It is but one sanction levied for DWI deterrence. I have voiced my concern about the New Mexico ignition interlock law particularly because the implementation and enforcement was not really fully thought out and thought through – many of the issues and systemic changes needed were overlooked. You can read about those in last week’s blog.

I would love to see a universal remedy – a motor vehicle that prevents anyone from driving drunk or under the influence of drugs. The truth is, until we can override the human factor in driving motor vehicles we will have impaired driving – and I’m afraid DADSS (as it is proposed) won’t deliver.

I think the funding for this type of research should not come from our federal government but rather the car manufacturers as they stand to profit from sales of such technology.

Putting the $60 million federal funding into re-activating the solutions that have proven to reduce death and injury would have more far reaching results without having to rely on a hope and a prayer (and $60 million) for reductions many years from now.  Please read the Center’s comments submitted to the committee.

You can read more details of the Roads Safe Act legislation and some of the discussion at http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20010042-503544.html

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Will the ignition interlock law save us from ourselves? Part 1

Posted by dwiresourcecenter on August 23, 2011

By Linda Atkinson
Executive Director
DWI Resource Center

In recent years, New Mexico has received a great deal of praise for passing strict laws mandating ignition interlock for all convicted DWI offenders. However, it would be unwise to view the interlock as a panacea for the state’s DWI issues. In our typical court mandated interlock sanction, two-thirds of New Mexico offenders still do not install igni­tion interlocks. The risk of detection for driving-while-suspended violations is low and many offenders choose to drive without a license rather than install an interlock. A few methods of avoidance offenders utilize include: Tell the court they will not be driving or don’t have a vehicle, purchase a cheap vehicle (in New Mexico one can purchase a vehicle without a valid driver’s license) and there are the offenders who drive a motorcycle, on which an ignition interlock device cannot be installed.

Research shows ignition interlocks reduce recidivism among both first-time and repeat DWI offenders.  Once ignition interlocks are removed from vehicles, recidivism rates of ignition inter­lock users are similar to the rates for offenders who did not install ignition inter­locks.

New Mexico is viewed as a national “leader” in mandating the use of “ignition interlock” devices to reduce alcohol-impaired driving.  However,New Mexico’s approaches have many systemic problems that seem to compromise the system’s potential and its performance at reducing impaired driving.  These issues deserve careful, independent study.

Issue: The executive and judicial branches are not carrying out the laws as intended.

Judicial – Many judges are not ordering interlocks because they resist the concept, they view the interlocks as unaffordable to the offenders, they lack confidence in the devices’ vendors and system oversight of them, or they accept offenders’ word that they aren’t driving or own no vehicles.  Courts are not uniformly giving close monitoring that devices are actually installed, maintained, and used, once ordered, and they are not uniformly giving close attention to device performance and devices’ reports about offender compliance.
Administrative – Many offenders don’t bother to request the ignition interlock licenses, since they can readily drive without a license with near-zero risk of detection.  Agencies are not giving close monitoring that devices are actually maintained once ordered, and they are not uniformly giving close attention to device performance and devices’ reports about offender compliance.

Vendors – Vendors are not closely monitored.  Instances of corrupt behavior by vendors have been detected without official response.

Enforcement – Courts, agencies and prosecutors have not followed up on these problems.


Issue: Individuals ordered to receive the devices are not complying with the law.

Noncompliance with required installation

Defeating after installation

Defeating by disabling

Defeating by deceit

Driving other vehicles


Issue:  Ignition interlock usage has little effect on system-wide DWI behavior

The devices are ordered most for people who are least likely to repeat

Most DWI injuries are caused by impaired drivers the device would not reach

Those most likely to recidivate are least likely to comply with the device requirements.

Failures in lack of community model

Lack of independent evaluation

Failures from undermining effective alternatives

Undermining driving restrictions

Undermining repeat offender penalties

Undermining general deterrence effects with those never arrested

Ignition interlock systems are an important technological advance in the battle against drunk driving, but on their own they will not win it. It’s easy to look at the immediate success while the device is installed and relax efforts to fight drunk driving in other areas, but the unfortunate truth is that the problem is not solved yet. Addressing long-term recidivism and compliance will be a start, but we cannot say we have won until drunk-driving is in fact a thing of the past.

Next week the status of ignition interlocks in the near future

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.
Henry Ford

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Are New Mexico’s DWI sanctions meaningful?

Posted by dwiresourcecenter on August 17, 2011

By Linda Atkinson
Executive Director
DWI Resource Center

Continuing the conversation from last week – we talked about the lower number of alcohol-related fatalities in New Mexico – from 191 deaths in 2006 to 139 deaths in 2010.  A more complete picture of the status of DWI crash deaths in New Mexico is revealed in the percentage of all fatal crashes involving alcohol. The percent of all alcohol-related crash deaths has remained constant – 40 percent – over the past five years.

New Mexico experienced declines (1989 thru 1998) in not only the number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes but also the percentage of DWI deaths reflected a downward trend. There were landmark policy changes made in 1993 that reflects the impact of DWI policy in reducing DWI crashes. From 1999 through 2010, there has been no progress in reducing the percent of alcohol involved deaths, hovering at the 40 percent level.  New Mexico also was experiencing a decline in non-DWI-related deaths as much as decline in DWI-related deaths.  We would conclude that the DWI policies since 1999 appear to have virtually little to no effect in reducing the DWI-related deaths in New Mexico.

The research has been very solid on what reduces DWI death and injury – detecting and arresting DWI offenders and fully prosecuting these offenders. The courts need to sentence meaningful sanctions and then follow up that the sanctions imposed are completed by the offender. So, our first line of defense in saving lives is enforcement and what we have experienced is a steady decline in DWI arrests per capita.  There is the reality of other pressures, priorities and resources law enforcement agencies have experienced during this decline and the reality that many agencies became increasingly dependent on increases in federal funding. The drastic drop in DWI arrests seen in 2010 was, in large part, due to the Albuquerque DWI enforcement reductions.


The state has seen reductions in the DWI conviction rates as well.  In the most recent annual report on DWI court dispositions in New Mexico published by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) (http://www.nmcourts.gov/dwi_reports/2010dwicourtdispositions.pdf), the conviction rates in all the courts – District, Magistrate, Municipal have declined, however in Metro Court they slightly increased  from 64 percent in 2005 to 67 percent in 2009. What was interesting was the percentage of these dismissals was attributed to the prosecutor.

In reading the about the sanctions imposed found in the New Mexico DWI Offender Characteristics and Recidivism Report 2000 – 2007[1], it begs the question, are these really meaningful sanctions?

The most common sanction for DWI offenders in 2006 was probation (87% of all offenders). Other common sanctions in 2006 included community service (72%), ignition interlock (70%), DWI school (69%), participation in a victim impact panel (63%), outpatient or inpatient treatment (43%), and jail (30%). Driver’s licenses were revoked for 11% of offenders.

Probation, DWI school, and victim impact panels have historically been the most frequently

assigned sanctions. In the past several years, however, new sanctions have emerged. Since 2002, ignition interlock, and, since 2004, community service have been used with increasing frequency, and are now among the most common sanctions. Also starting in 2004 driver’s license revocation began a more gradual increase in use as a sanction, and in 2006 was used for 11% of offenders.

The re-arrest rate of DWI offenders is generally 18 percent (from last conviction to next arrest within a three year period).

Overall, in order for New Mexico to experience the reductions of DWI death and injury, I will be discussing the policies and systemic changes that deserve serious consideration.

Next week I will discuss New Mexico’s beloved ignition interlock – the facts, the research and the future.

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

[1] NM Department of Health’s Substance Abuse Epidemiology Section Injury and Behavioral Epidemiology Bureau Epidemiology and Response Division

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

A tale of two states

Posted by dwiresourcecenter on August 10, 2011

By Linda Atkinson
Executive Director
DWI Resource Center

I want to start off this blog on a positive note – New Mexico has experienced some of the lowest DWI death and injury counts in its history. Good for us.  This is occurring across the nation as well. Good for all of us.  From 2006 – 2010 New Mexico’s DWI fatalities went from 191 to 139. Overall traffic fatalities are down as they are nationwide. However, in reviewing the New Mexico DWI related fatalities over the 5 year period mentioned above, they consistently account for 40% of all traffic fatalities, so it begs the question:  Are we really making progress?  I, of course, propose we aren’t doing all we could to reduce our DWI death and injury rates and I’ll make my case as we move into a regular discussion of what is working and what is not, keeping this in mind – DWI is PREVENTABLE. Today, let’s look at our neighbor to the north.

Colorado and New Mexico have similar high concentrations of people in cities and contrasting large rural areas. Examining the laws in which DWI offenders are punished in these two states reveals several differences in their approaches.

In 2009, according to the Century Council, Colorado suffered 3.1 fatalities per 100,000 residents as a result of DWI (total of 158 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities).  In the same year, New Mexico had 5.7 deaths per 100,000 people (total 114 deaths).  Although with lower number of deaths, New Mexico’s experience reflects a significantly higher percentage of deaths per citizen (almost twice as many) as Colorado which has a much larger population. What do we attribute this to … is this due in part to policy?

Colorado has a system with two separate methods of assessing DWIs. The first is very similar to New Mexico, where a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above is considered intoxication. In addition though, Colorado has a law prohibiting “driving while ability impaired” (DWAI) where a driver can be charged for driving with a BAC between .05 and .08. This additional provision is certainly interesting because it seems to illustrate a concern in Colorado’s legislature that even driving under “the legal limit” can be dangerous. The punishment for a DWAI is similar for the most part to DWI except that your first DWAI does not result in a possibility of a license suspension although it can result in jail time.

The two states generally have similar laws for DWI sanctions – mostly in jail time, license suspension, community service and fines. A noticeable difference is in Colorado’s law for DWI third and subsequent offenses, the penalties are the same, whereas New Mexico enhances the punishment for every conviction up to the offender’s seventh DWI. Repeat DWI criminals are intended to receive stricter and more serious sentences on each conviction. While Colorado seems more concerned with dangerous driving that occurs even when the driver has a BAC under .08, New Mexico’s law reflects more concern with repeat offenders.

A first offense in New Mexico results in license revocation up to one year, up to 90 days in jail, DWI school, alcohol evaluation, ignition interlock for one year and community service, but no mandatory jail time.  A second offense results in a two-year license suspension, up to 364 days in jail with 96 mandatory hours, $500 to $1,000 fine, and the same alcohol evaluation, community service, and ignition interlock for 2 years. A third offense results in a three year license revocation, from 30 to 364 days jail time, a $750 to $1,000 fine as well as an alcohol evaluation and community service. All further offenses result in a lifetime license revocation with 5-year court review and are felonies. The fourth offense is a fourth degree felony, which results in six to 18 months in prison. The fifth offense is the same except it results in one year to two-year jail time and up to a $5,000 fine. It also requires the interlock with a court review after five years. The sixth offense is 30 days up to 18 months in prison and up to a $5,000 fine but is treated as a third degree felony. The seventh and all additional offenses are third degree felonies and result in two to three years in prison, up to $5,000 fine and alcohol evaluation, treatment and mandatory interlock.

In contrast, the first DWI conviction in Colorado carries mandatory jail time, which the New Mexico law does not. The first DWI is punished with five days to one-year jail time (there are some conditions, however, where this can be suspended), alcohol and drug evaluation, and a fine of $600 to $1,000. The first DWAI in Colorado is punished by two to 180 days in jail and a fine between $200 and $500. The second DWI or a DWI with a previous DWAI or a DWAI with a previous DWI results in a fine of $600-$1500. The third and all further offenses are punished by a fine of $600-$1,500.

Everybody across the nation struggles to answer the persistent DWI question:  “Why do people continue to place themselves and everyone else at risk by driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol?”  Colorado and New Mexico do not have drastically different systems but they do have different results. Colorado has almost half as many DWIs as New Mexico per 100,000 people. Do the slight differences in Colorado’s justice system make a difference? Maybe Colorado’s differing system of defining unlawful behavior when driving, (making it a crime to over .05 BAC) and its differing criminal penalties (jail time for first offenders) is part of the reason. Maybe Colorado’s legislature designed the laws it did in response to different cultural or societal problems to prevent DWIs. It is definitely worth exploring further, rather continuing to do what we, in New Mexico, have always done – expecting different results each time.

“We have to do the best we can. This is our sacred human responsibility.”

Albert Einstein

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

New Mexico ranked 11th in total car crashes; reported crash death rates declined

Posted by dwiresourcecenter on September 16, 2010

On September 9, the US Department of Transportation released its counts of 2009 traffic fatalities by state, which can be found on its website at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811363.pdf.    The counts provided therein allow comparison of risks of crash death in New Mexico to risks in other states, using census populations to calculate rates of death per 100,000 population (the standard method for analyzing death rates for public health problems like fatal crash injuries).  The USDOT publication also provides estimates of crash deaths by state involving 1 or more drivers at .08 bac, so risks for that category of crash can also be compared.  Results:

  • NM ranked 11th among the 50 states/Dist. of Colombia for total crash deaths per 100,000 population in 2008, and 12th in 2009.
  • NM’s total reported crash deaths declined from 366 in 2008 to 361 in  2009.
  • NM’s death rate of total crash deaths per 100,000 population declined from 18.42 in 2008 to 17.96 in 2009, a drop of 2.49%  (by comparison, the national rate dropped 10.43%).
  • NM’s 2009 rate of total crash deaths per 100,000 population was 63% higher than the USA national rate of 11.01.
  • NM’s 2009 rate of total crash deaths per 100,000 population was 47% higher than Arizona’s rate of 12.24, 94% higher than Colorado’s rate of 9.25, and 104% higher than Utah’s rate of 8.76.
  • NM ranked 12th among the 50 states/Dist. of Colombia for alcohol impaired driving fatalities per 100000 population in 2008, and 12th in 2009.
  • NM’s estimated alcohol impaired driving deaths rose from 105 in 2008 to 114 in 2009.
  • NM’s death rate of alcohol impaired driving deaths per 100,000 population rose from 5.28 in 2008 to 5.67 in 2009, an increase of 7.33%    (by comparison, the national rate dropped 8.24%)..
  • NM’s 2009 rate of alcohol impaired driving deaths per 100,000 population was 61% higher than the USA national rate of 3.53.
  • NM’s 2009 rate of alcohol impaired driving deaths per 100,000 population was 71% higher than Arizona’s rate of 3.32, 80% higher than Colorado’s rate of 3.14, and 294% higher than Utah’s rate of 1.44.

Notes: Death counts are from the USDOT’s “Traffic Safety Facts” Summary of Statistical Findings, August 2010, DOT HS 811 363.  Population values are from the US Census Population estimates as of July 2009 and July 2008.  USDOT’s “alcohol impaired driving death” values by state are their estimates of the number of crash deaths involving at least one driver who was at .08 BAC or higher, so the counts exclude deaths where the alcohol impairment was only on the part of a pedestrian or bicyclist.  2009 crash death estimates are preliminary.

USDOT Crash Death Estimates for 2008 & 2009, with rates per 100,000 population, ranks, and rate % change

State TotalDeaths




























TotalRate %


AlcRate %


Alabama 969 314 848 280 4,677,464 4,708,708 20.72 6.71 18.01 5.95 6 8 11 10 -13.07 -11.42
Alaska 62 21 64 20 688,125 698,473 9.01 3.05 9.16 2.86 41 34 36 37 1.70 -6.17
Arizona 938 262 807 219 6,499,377 6,595,778 14.43 4.03 12.24 3.32 20 24 25 28 -15.22 -17.63
Arkansas 600 170 585 168 2,867,764 2,889,450 20.92 5.93 20.25 5.81 4 10 5 11 -3.23 -1.92
California 3,434 1,025 3,081 950 36,580,371 36,961,664 9.39 2.80 8.34 2.57 40 39 41 42 -11.21 -8.27
Colorado 548 176 465 158 4,935,213 5,024,748 11.10 3.57 9.25 3.14 31 28 34 33 -16.66 -11.83
Connecticut 302 95 223 99 3,502,932 3,518,288 8.62 2.71 6.34 2.81 43 42 48 39 -26.48 3.76
Delaware 121 44 116 45 876,211 885,122 13.81 5.02 13.11 5.08 22 15 20 14 -5.10 1.24
Dist of Columbia 34 9 29 10 590,074 599,657 5.76 1.53 4.84 1.67 50 51 51 48 -16.07 9.34
Florida 2,980 887 2,558 770 18,423,878 18,537,969 16.17 4.81 13.80 4.15 14 18 18 19 -14.69 -13.72
Georgia 1,495 405 1,284 331 9,697,838 9,829,211 15.42 4.18 13.06 3.37 17 22 21 27 -15.26 -19.36
Hawaii 107 42 109 52 1,287,481 1,295,178 8.31 3.26 8.42 4.01 44 31 40 20 1.26 23.07
Idaho 232 78 226 58 1,527,506 1,545,801 15.19 5.11 14.62 3.75 18 14 16 23 -3.74 -26.52
Illinois 1,043 356 911 319 12,842,954 12,910,409 8.12 2.77 7.06 2.47 45 41 46 43 -13.11 -10.86
Indiana 820 206 693 210 6,388,309 6,423,113 12.84 3.22 10.79 3.27 25 32 28 29 -15.95 1.39
Iowa 412 89 372 96 2,993,987 3,007,856 13.76 2.97 12.37 3.19 23 37 24 32 -10.13 7.37
Kansas 384 138 386 154 2,797,375 2,818,747 13.73 4.93 13.69 5.46 24 16 19 13 -0.24 10.75
Kentucky 825 186 791 194 4,287,931 4,314,113 19.24 4.34 18.34 4.50 10 21 9 18 -4.70 3.67
Louisiana 916 339 821 295 4,451,513 4,492,076 20.58 7.62 18.28 6.57 8 5 10 6 -11.18 -13.77
Maine 155 42 159 47 1,319,691 1,318,301 11.75 3.18 12.06 3.57 28 33 26 26 2.69 12.02
Maryland 591 145 547 162 5,658,655 5,699,478 10.44 2.56 9.60 2.84 35 43 33 38 -8.11 10.92
Massachusetts 364 120 334 108 6,543,595 6,593,587 5.56 1.83 5.07 1.64 51 47 50 50 -8.94 -10.68
Michigan 980 284 871 246 10,002,486 9,969,727 9.80 2.84 8.74 2.47 39 38 39 44 -10.83 -13.10
Minnesota 455 132 421 108 5,230,567 5,266,214 8.70 2.52 7.99 2.05 42 44 43 46 -8.10 -18.74
Mississippi 783 251 700 234 2,940,212 2,951,996 26.63 8.54 23.71 7.93 2 4 2 5 -10.96 -7.15
Missouri 960 314 878 300 5,956,335 5,987,580 16.12 5.27 14.66 5.01 15 13 15 15 -9.02 -4.96
Montana 229 90 221 81 968,035 974,989 23.66 9.30 22.67 8.31 3 2 3 3 -4.18 -10.64
Nebraska 208 53 223 66 1,781,949 1,796,619 11.67 2.97 12.41 3.67 30 36 22 25 6.34 23.51
Nevada 324 106 243 68 2,615,772 2,643,085 12.39 4.05 9.19 2.57 26 23 35 41 -25.78 -36.51
New Hampshire 138 45 110 30 1,321,872 1,324,575 10.44 3.40 8.30 2.26 36 30 42 45 -20.45 -33.47
New Jersey 590 152 583 149 8,663,398 8,707,739 6.81 1.75 6.70 1.71 47 50 47 47 -1.69 -2.47
New Mexico 366 105 361 114 1,986,763 2,009,671 18.42 5.28 17.96 5.67 11 12 12 12 -2.49 7.33
New York 1,238 346 1,156 321 19,467,789 19,541,453 6.36 1.78 5.92 1.64 48 49 49 49 -6.98 -7.58
North Carolina 1,428 423 1,314 363 9,247,134 9,380,884 15.44 4.57 14.01 3.87 16 19 17 21 -9.30 -15.41
North Dakota 104 47 140 54 641,421 646,844 16.21 7.33 21.64 8.35 13 6 4 2 33.49 13.93
Ohio 1,191 351 1,021 324 11,528,072 11,542,645 10.33 3.04 8.85 2.81 37 35 37 40 -14.38 -7.81
Oklahoma 750 242 738 235 3,644,025 3,687,050 20.58 6.64 20.02 6.37 7 9 6 8 -2.75 -4.03
Oregon 416 137 377 115 3,782,991 3,825,657 11.00 3.62 9.85 3.01 32 27 31 36 -10.39 -16.99
Pennsylvania 1,468 499 1,256 406 12,566,368 12,604,767 11.68 3.97 9.96 3.22 29 25 29 31 -14.70 -18.89
Rhode Island 65 23 83 34 1,053,502 1,053,209 6.17 2.18 7.88 3.23 49 45 44 30 27.73 47.87
South Carolina 921 400 894 377 4,503,280 4,561,242 20.45 8.88 19.60 8.27 9 3 7 4 -4.17 -6.95
South Dakota 121 35 131 53 804,532 812,383 15.04 4.35 16.13 6.52 19 20 13 7 7.22 49.97
Tennessee 1,043 306 989 303 6,240,456 6,296,254 16.71 4.90 15.71 4.81 12 17 14 17 -6.02 -1.86
Texas 3,476 1,310 3,071 1,235 24,304,290 24,782,302 14.30 5.39 12.39 4.98 21 11 23 16 -13.36 -7.54
Utah 276 49 244 40 2,727,343 2,784,572 10.12 1.80 8.76 1.44 38 48 38 51 -13.41 -20.05
Vermont 73 12 74 23 621,049 621,760 11.75 1.93 11.90 3.70 27 46 27 24 1.25 91.45
Virginia 825 276 757 243 7,795,424 7,882,590 10.58 3.54 9.60 3.08 34 29 32 35 -9.26 -12.93
Washington 521 183 492 206 6,566,073 6,664,195 7.93 2.79 7.38 3.09 46 40 45 34 -6.96 10.91
West Virginia 378 126 356 115 1,814,873 1,819,777 20.83 6.94 19.56 6.32 5 7 8 9 -6.07 -8.98
Wisconsin 605 205 561 213 5,627,610 5,654,774 10.75 3.64 9.92 3.77 33 26 30 22 -7.72 3.40
Wyoming 159 65 134 47 532,981 544,270 29.83 12.20 24.62 8.64 1 1 1 1 -17.47 -29.19
National 37,423 11,711 33,808 10,839 304,374,846 307,006,550 12.30 3.85 11.01 3.53 -10.43 -8.24
Puerto Rico 405 123 365 109 3,954,553 3,967,288 10.24 3.11 9.20 2.75 -10.17 -11.67

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

N.M. Supreme Court should rule against recommend to purge court records

Posted by dwiresourcecenter on June 28, 2010

Michael Corwin
Guest writer

The Judicial Information Systems Council, an advisory committee to the New Mexico Supreme Court, has recommended that court case file summaries be removed from the New Mexico Court Case Lookup website once the case file is destroyed. (ABQ Journal UpFront Column by Thomas J. Cole on May 26, 2010 “Another Proposal to Shut Out Public”). This is the second recommendation to the Supreme Court in a matter of just a couple of months to remove access by the public to case information on the website. These two recommendations follow the removal of all domestic violence petitions from the Case Lookup website, which has unfortunately already led to a tragedy that has been well documented by the news media.

As far as I can tell, those pushing for the removal of these records believe they are helping out a few people, who despite not paying debts, refusing to pay rent, and beating other people, have been unfairly “tarnished” because their actions are documented on a state website that the public can easily access. Despite the altruistic nature of the stated reasons, reasons that I believe do not comport with reality, there are serious ramifications that will result from the removal of these records which in most peoples’ views are far more problematic than beneficial.

There is a clear public policy in New Mexico that the government should make public records as accessible to the public as possible. We have one of the best public records acts in the country (Article 14, Chapter 2 of the NMSA 1978). Under the IPRA giving the public the runaround instead of providing access to a public record can cost a government entity $100 per day for each request they drag their feet on.  There is no way to square the removal of public records from the court website with the clear public policy supporting access to public records. On the contrary, it leads the government down the slippery slope of saying “we can make it as hard as possible for you to see those records even though you have a right to see and use them”.

Removal of these records by the government says very clearly to the public that personal responsibility does not matter. There are no consequences for bad conduct that affects other people. In fact, the committee wants the majority of us to bear the burden and costs of other people’s irresponsibility. Want to rent out a house. Forget checking to see if the prospective tenant has been evicted numerous times for not paying rent and has a history of trashing properties. Too bad for you you worked years in order to afford having an investment property. You shouldn’t be able to pick or choose who to rent to someone simply because they won’t pay. That’s your problem not theirs. The state is an enabler.

Finally, and most tragically of all, despite the best intentions of those on the committee, there is absolutely no doubt that removing these records will lead to racial and gender profiling. If you as an employer can’t check out an individual person before you hire them, the safest approach for your business and your existing employees is to not hire anyone in a risky demographic. Faced with choosing between several prospective job applicants for a position with a company, but unable to check out each individual’s criminal history because the state removed the cases from the website, realistically, what do you think most employers will do? Forget hiring the young Hispanic, African-American or Native-American male competing for the same job with an Anglo female. After all demographics show that an Anglo female is less likely to get into a fist fight with co-workers. Yes, that’s illegal. But it will be the reality. The state should never be in the discrimination enabling business.

For all of these reasons, the State Supreme Court should not only reject the JISC’s recommendations, but should go a step further and order that domestic violence petitions be returned to the Case Lookup website. An open society is a safer society.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

What’s the problem with the Center and the $100,000 City grant?

Posted by dwiresourcecenter on June 14, 2010

By Linda Atkinson
Executive Director
DWI Resource Center

The City of Albuquerque passed a public safety tax over six years ago. The revenues generated by the tax were to be dedicated to the police and fire departments, mental health services, domestic violence services and DWI prevention.

I don’t recall the exact amount to each category – with exceptions of the domestic violence portion ($250,000) and the DWI prevention ($100,000). Every three years the city issues an RFP (Request for Proposal) for the mental health, domestic violence and DWI prevention services (the amounts remain the same for each category).  The DWI Resource Center has submitted a successful proposal every three years – and every year in between the city requires a substantial proposal and budget to be submitted.

This year the Center again submitted a proposal but was denied funding. There was one other proposal submitted by a treatment agency – they were selected to receive the grant.  Let me talk briefly about our past funded endeavors.

Earlier this week we sent out our last newsletter for summer 2010. In that newsletter I wrote a brief note to our readers (the companies we have worked with over the years) to let them know that we would no longer have the funding to provide drug free workplace services (including the newsletter).

Over the past six years we have contacted and worked with over 3,000 companies (just in the Albuquerque area). We write drug free workplace policies, review policies, provide resources, sample policies, educational materials including videos, posters, paycheck inserts – in English and Spanish, provide parents information on alcohol abuse, have a webpage dedicated to businesses and provide supervisor, manager and employee training related to a drug free workplace.  Doing this type of DWI prevention for our Albuquerque companies resulted in a 44% reduction in DWI fatalities and injury crashes.

The other activities we do at the Center which are NOT funded under this grant include data analysis, crash mapping, a volunteer court monitor program and victim’s rights legal assistance.

We don’t lobby (I did volunteer lobbying on DWI and victim issues well over 12 years ago), we DO NOT purchase ANY trinkets such as key rings, bumper stickers pens, etc. We will distribute the trinkets the County of Bernalillo DWI program or the State Traffic Safety Bureau purchases.  We don’t ever consider purchasing trinkets a good use of funds.

So, back to the successful bidder of the $100,000 City grant for DWI prevention – the treatment provider said it would be underage DWI prevention (and when you read the proposal, it is treatment).

My question – the measure of our success is not in just how many companies have adopted drug free workplace policies and how many trainings we have done, but include tracking DWI death and injury crashes – the City will give the $100,000 to a treatment program – what will they measure? How many young people they counsel?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Municipal and Magistrate Courts of ‘no record’ and non-attorney judges

Posted by dwiresourcecenter on June 8, 2010

By Linda Atkinson
Executive Director
DWI Resource Center

(continued discussion on DWI multiple offenders)

DWI is the most commonly committed crime (followed closely by domestic violence) in New Mexico and across the country. These crimes – for the most part – are charged as misdemeanors and filed in lower jurisdiction courts – in New Mexico that would be municipal court – or in state magistrate court. Metro Court in Albuquerque is also a lower jurisdiction court – with two vast differences from the other municipal and magistrate courts.

The two major differences are;

  1. Metro is a court of record – the other municipal and magistrate courts are not.
  2. Metro Court requires the judges to be attorneys, the municipal and magistrate courts do not.

In fact the requirement is that the magistrate judges have a high school diploma or GED, and that qualifies them to be a judge. Most municipal courts are the same unless there is a city ordinance that requires other qualifications.

The state has put literally millions of dollars into automating the courts with the intent to make the records easily accessible for the courts/prosecutors around the state. The problem is – there are still many issues that make it difficult for prosecutors to access prior records of DWI offenders – so our multiple offenders can many times elude the correct charging of their DWI offense. Say rather than a DWI 3, it will only be charged as a DWI 1 – unless the prosecutor can stay on top of getting these records, and there are many who just don’t try or don’t make time.

In the end, the multiple offender is able to elude either full prosecution or appropriate sanctions for the true DWI offense it should be.

Wouldn’t it make sense to have all courts that handle DWI courts’ of record and require judges to be attorneys?

In coming blogs –

Leveling the playing field – what’s in a plea deal
Purchasing a vehicle without a valid drivers license
Limited or lax oversight of the ignition interlock providers
Follow the money

Posted in court records | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.