ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – He’s in charge of making laws, but State Senator Jacob Candelaria was caught breaking the law by driving on expired plates Monday in Albuquerque.
There are 112 New Mexico State Legislators. According to the state, “legislators must request an elected official plate from the MVD central office in Santa Fe.”
They’re red plates with the with the State of New Mexico Seal to the left.
Monday, a shopper at the Walmart off of Academy and Wyoming snapped a photo of the senator’s license plate.
The tag expired back in April 2016. The plate is on Senator Jacob Candelaria’s personal vehicle. It’s labeled “26” the number that corresponds to the district he represents in Albuquerque.
When he spoke with KRQE News 13 on Tuesday, he owned up to it, calling the situation “embarrassing.”
“I apologize to the appearance it gives,” he said. “You know I feel pretty bad about it.”
The senator said it’s no excuse, but he got busy and didn’t get around to it. He also admitted to making another big mistake.
“After buying a new car, I’ve been trying to transfer the license plate and get it re-registered, I should not have transferred the license plate before getting it re-registered,” Candelaria said.
That’s because it is illegal to transfer a plate without registering it first to the car. The senator said because it’s a specialty plate, there’s a “few more hoops” he has to go through to register it to a new vehicle.
“I, myself cannot assign that plate to my own vehicle, to like a new car, like anyone else can because they’re regulated and controlled, there’s only 112 of them,” he said. I’m working with the department to get it re-assigned.”
The state MVD office issues the specialty plates to the legislators, upon request, but says legislators are responsible for making sure the tags are up-to-date.
“I understand that I should really lead by example and so I take this seriously and just apologize,” Candelaria said.
The state said to make it easy on legislators, MVD sends staff to the legislature during each session, each year, to help legislators register their plates.
The senator called KRQE News 13 back this evening to say that he has registered his plate to the new car and paid the late fee as required.
“I will pay every single penny of penalty as I should as anyone else would be expected to,” he said.