Bipartisan efforts underway to change state’s DWI blood testing statute

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are looking to change part of the state’s DWI statute. They want to make it so that if you refuse to have your blood drawn, law enforcement can get a warrant for it no matter the circumstance.

Get pulled over in New Mexico, and the Implied Consent — which you agree to upon getting your driver’s license — says you will take a breathalyzer test, or else you face aggravated DWI charges.

Say you refuse or blow a .00, but the officer suspects there are drugs involved that wouldn’t otherwise show up on your breath. According to recent case law, you cannot be charged with aggravated DWI by simply refusing a request for your blood.

That’s because your blood cannot be drawn without a search warrant, and New Mexico law says a suspect’s blood can only be drawn via search warrant unless they are also suspected of committing a felony, like causing a fatal crash while impaired.

Now, Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, and Sen. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, along with Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, want to change that. Both the senators and the representative have introduced bills of the same nature in their respective house.

Read: Proposed Senate Bill 0026 and proposed House Bill 007

“New Mexico law has to be changed in order to allow a warrant for a blood draw in the case of a misdemeanor. Most DWIs are misdemeanors,” Sen. Ivey-Soto said.

Ivey-Soto, a former felony DWI prosecutor for the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office, says this will be another tool for getting a conviction.

“If we pass this law, it’s not going to result in a bunch of people being tied down onto a gurney and somebody doing a forced blood draw. This is going to be used in those cases where is the need for additional evidence beyond what the police officers already have in their investigation,” he said.

He also said this law could benefit defendants by proving what their blood-alcohol content really was or wasn’t at the time of the arrest.

For Maetas Barnes, a member of the House known for her tough-on-crime approach, it’s about tightening the system and holding all impaired drivers accountable, including those high on drugs even if they didn’t kill or hurt someone this time around.

The upcoming 30-day session will have a call, issued by Governor Susana Martinez. While it’s unclear if she will sign a bill like this, we know she tends to put crime at the top of her agenda.

Maestas Barnes introduce a similar bill last year. It made it out of the House but did not make it out of the Senate for the governor to consider.

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