New bill bans repeat DWI offenders from alcohol for life

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico lawmaker has an idea to curb drinking and driving that is sure to have people talking. She wants to give convicted drunk drivers special licenses that keep them from buying alcohol, some of them for life.

It’s pretty simple, the lawmaker thinks if you make it harder for them to get their hands on alcohol, you make it harder for them to drink and drive.

Experts tell KRQE News 13, for many drunk drivers it is habitual behavior. Most people will drive up to a thousand times before they’re arrested the first time,” said Linda Atkinson, executive director of the DWI Resource Center. And the lack of enforcement in New Mexico is making the problem worse.

“We have one of the lowest arrest rates ever,” said Atkinson. “Okay, we’ll make a note, they didn’t get their ignition lock, okay, they didn’t finish their treatment, end of story.”

A lawmaker is proposing a new solution; the bill takes away the ability to purchase alcohol after a second DWI conviction. Those offenders would get the same style driver’s license as a person under the age of 21. After the second conviction, “…an offender shall forfeit the privilege to purchase, possess or consume intoxicating liquor in the state for one year.” After the third conviction, the person forfeits the right to buy or drink alcohol for life.

Some people believe stiffer penalties could be the deterrent that saves a life. “You only have to have one accident where you run over a child or crash into something,” said Connie Moore.

Others we spoke with do not think this law would make a difference. “You could still have access to alcohol, have anyone buy it for you,” said Ryan Hanauer.

Experts also think restricting access to alcohol is not a real solution. “If they want their alcohol, they are going to get it,” said Atkinson.

She thinks the real solution is treating the root of the problem, alcoholism.

“Start addressing it and treating it as a disease,” said Atkinson. “To combine punitive and rehabilitative is the best chance of them not repeating that behavior,” said Atkinson.

The bill also states that a person with a lifetime alcohol ban can appeal their case in district court after ten years but only if they have committed no-alcohol related crimes in that period. The bill was introduced by a Republican Representative from Corrales.

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