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                                                       SPECIAL REPORT

      DWI IN NEW MEXICO


THE HARD TRUTH



DWI          arrests and convictions are down. Alcohol-related crashes are up.
             So is the number of people killed by drunken drivers. What happened
to New Mexico’s crusade to stop drunken driving? We fell asleep at the wheel.
                                                                                    MK
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2     SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002


                                             To Our Readers                                                                                     How This Project
                                      My 17-year-old son has been       do. Parents of teen-agers from      son, into a single section in
                                                                                                                                                Was Reported
T      he human toll drunken
       driving inflicts on our
       state is mind-numbing.
The statistics you will read in
this special report make that
                                    arrested twice on drunken dri-
                                    ving charges. He is one of hun-
                                    dreds of juveniles picked up
                                    every year for DWI. His sec-
                                                                        every walk of life can be con-
                                                                        fronted with DWI and the prob-
                                                                        lems it brings.
                                                                          This special report tells the
                                                                                                            hopes it will be used by elected
                                                                                                            officials, advocates, teachers,
                                                                                                            police and everyday citizens in
                                                                                                            the fight against DWI.
                                                                                                                                                  The Journal began working on
                                                                                                                                                this project last year.
clear, and I won’t repeat them      ond arrest, which occurred ear-     DWI story from the perspec-           As this special report makes
                                    ly this year, came after he lost    tive of people closest to the       clear, we can do better. We
                                                                                                                                                Thomas J. Cole
here. Suffice it to say it is a
problem that we grow hard-          control of the car he was dri-      problem: victims, cops, sur-        should do better.                     Investigative reporter Thomas J.
ened to and often ignore, per-      ving and hit a utility pole. He     vivors, grieving loved ones and       If you would like extra copies    Cole interviewed judges, police,
haps because it seems so big        was lucky to walk away. And         drunken drivers themselves.         of this special report, please      prosecutors, gov-
and virtually impossible to         even luckier no one else was          Investigative reporter            contact the Albuquerque Pub-        ernment officials,
solve. Avoidance is our defense     hurt. The people you will read      Thomas J. Cole analyzed hun-        lishing Company library at          drivers, victims
mechanism.                          about in this special report        dreds of DWI cases statewide;       823-3490.                           and activists in the
  Then, a particularly tragic       weren’t that lucky.                 Leslie Linthicum introduces                                             fight against DWI.
DWI incident generates banner         The court allowed my son to       you to the people affected by                                             He spent time in
                                    enter a treatment program that      DWI. And she takes you                                                  courtrooms watch-
headlines that no one can
                                    involved therapy and wilder-        through 72 hours of drunken                                             ing sentencing of
ignore. When a drunk driving
                                    ness living under extreme con-      driving and its fallout — from                                          DWI offenders and
the wrong way on the interstate
                                    ditions. He suffered a serious      the street to the emergency                                             rode shotgun with
kills four people, we all feel                                                                                                                  police on patrols
threatened. It could have been      injury while in the program         room to an autopsy.                                                                           COLE
                                                                                                                                                for drunken dri-
us.                                 and is recuperating. His case is      We have compiled their work,
                                                                                                                                                vers.
  In fact, it could be us almost    pending until he completes the      and that of photographers Rose                             T.H. Lang
                                                                                                                                                  Cole obtained and analyzed state
any time we get into a vehicle.     program, which he intends to        Palmisano and Josh Stephen-                                Publisher
                                                                                                                                                databases containing hundreds of
                                                                                                                                                thousands of DWI arrests and alco-
                                                                                                                                                hol-related accidents. He also
                                                                                                                                                inspected DWI cases across the
                                                                   INSIDE                                                                       state.
                                                                                                                                                  Cole, 47, has been a reporter for
                                                                                                                                                the Journal for 10 years.

                                                                   72 Hours of                          Many Drunks                             Leslie Linthicum
                                                                   Drunken Driving                      Get Off Easy                              Journal reporter Leslie
                                                                                                                                                Linthicum spent two months profil-
                                                                                                        The policy of tougher penalties         ing people whose lives have been
                                                                   A chronicle of three days of                                                 affected by DWI — people injured
                                                                                                        for repeat DWI offenders is
                                                                   drunken driving in New Mexico                                                in drunken driving accidents, sur-
                                                                                                        often not the practice.                 vivors of those
                                                                   — and three fatalities.
                                                                                                                              PAGE 15           killed by drunken
                                                                                            PAGE 3                                              drivers, people
                                                                                                                                                who have dedicat-
                                                                                                                                                ed their careers to
                                                                                                        Stopping Those                          the fight against
                                                                                                                                                drunken driving
                                                                   DWI Brakes                           Who Start Young                         and drunken dri-
                                                                   Failing                                                                      vers themselves.
                                                                                                                                                  In late March,
                                                                   The number of alcohol-related        Juvenile DWI offenders rarely           Linthicum spent      LINTHICUM
                                                                   deaths rises as DWI arrests          end up with convictions on              one 72-hour period
                                                                                                                                                compiling a chronological report
                                                                   fall.                                driving records, but they often         on DWI in our state.
                                                                                            PAGE 9      repeat the crime.                         Linthicum, 44, has been a
                                                                                                                              PAGE 21           reporter for the Journal for 13
                                                                                                                                                years.
                                                                                                                                                  Linthicum and Cole last worked
                                                                   Life Sentences                                                               together on the “Betrayal of Trust”
                                                                                                                                                series about treatment of children
                                                                   Stories of the people killed and
                                                                                                        Solutions Demand                        with leukemia at the University of
                                                                   injured by drunken drivers,          Involvement                             New Mexico.
                                                                   reformed drunken drivers and
                                                                   people who have made DWI                                                     Photographers
                                                                                                        New Mexico needs to get back
                                                                   their life’s work.                                                             Journal photographer Rose
                                                                                                        to work in fighting DWI. What           Palmisano shot many of the pho-
                                                                                  BEGINNING ON          experts say you can do.                 tographs for this series. Palmisano,
                                                                                       PAGE 11                                PAGE 27           49, has been with
                                       JOSH STEPHENSON/JOURNAL
                                                                                                                                                the Journal for 11
                                                                                                                                                years.
                                                                                                                                                  Staff photogra-
                                                                                                                                                pher Josh Stephen-
                                                                                                                                                son and free-lance
ON THE COVER                                                                                                                                    photographer Pat
                                                                                                                                                Vasquez-Cunning-
The ground near a cross on U.S. 84/285 just north of Santa Fe is littered with liquor and beer bottles thrown by passing motorists. The
                                                                                                                                                ham also con-
cross is a memorial to a drunken driver who was killed. In the photo above is another memorial at the same site, but dedicated to his victim.   tributed to this
                                                                                                                    JOSH STEPHENSON/JOURNAL
                                                                                                                                                project.              PALMISANO
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SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002                                                                                                                                                                3



 72 HOURS OF DRUNKEN DRIVING
  By Leslie Linthicum
  Journal Staff Writer
         ew Mexicans’ twin



 Nways.
         addictions — drinking
         liquor and driving cars
         — collide day in, day
         out in the most terrible

    Someone is killed every 36
  hours in a traffic accident that
  involves alcohol.
    A car crash that involves
  drinking happens every three
  hours.
    And every half hour
  someone in New Mexico gets
  handcuffed and booked on a
  charge of driving while
  intoxicated.
    Year in, year out, New
  Mexico ranks as one of the
  most drunken and dangerous
  places in the country.
    The statistics are numbing
  after a while, but the fallout is
  real: Heads shatter
  windshields, families rush to
  hospitals or plan funerals, and
  children watch their parents
  go to jail.
    What does it look like inside
  the problem? We will show
  you, using interviews, reports
  and personal observation to
  chronicle the drunken driving
  events of one three-day
  weekend.
    We’ll start with Friday,
  March 29.


  10 P.M.                                                                                                                                                 ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
                                      JUST ANOTHER DAY: The evening is still young when the first victims of drunken driving crashes begin arriving at the University of New
    David Lake has left his           Mexico Hospital’s trauma center.
  house in McIntosh a little
  after 9 p.m., giving him plenty     back of his pickup. Dazed, he      He was incoherent.”                neighborhoods. Albuquerque        intersection.
  of time to drive the 45 miles       pulls to the highway shoulder.       “Stay right here,” the driver    Police Department traffic           They patrol up and down
  into Albuquerque and make                                              slurs. “I’ll go get some help.”    officers are out in force,
                                      The car that hit him stops a                                                                            Central, Lomas and San Mateo
  his night shift at the U.S.                                              And he drives away.              conducting a “saturation
                                      little farther down the road                                                                            until hours after the bars
  Postal Service.
                                      and, as Lake is taking                                                patrol” in the area.              close, Campbell spotting
    The 55-year-old mechanic
  has just passed the point on
                                      inventory of his injuries, the     10:20 P.M.                           Officer Larry Campbell          weaving cars and pickups and
                                      driver walks up to his window.                                        heads out, writes a couple of     pulling them over, and officer
  Interstate 40 where Torrance
                                         Lake, a former drug and           The streets around Nob Hill      quick tickets for traffic         Troy Luna asking suspected
  County ends and Bernalillo
                                      alcohol counselor, has no          and East Central Avenue are        violations and then points his    drunks to walk through field
  County begins and he is
                                      doubt about the driver’s           crawling with people               cruiser west on Central           sobriety tests and then blow in
  topping Sedillo Hill when he
                                      condition.                         celebrating the end of the         Avenue at San Mateo and           a Breathalyzer.
  looks in his rearview mirror
  and sees headlights behind             “I could smell alcohol on his   work week with drinks at the       begins looking for drunken          Across New Mexico, 55
                                      breath. His eyes were droopy.      dozens of bars in the              drivers.                          people are arrested for DWI
  him. It appears they are
  closing in fast.                                                                                            The intersection of Central     on average every day. The
                                                                                                            and San Mateo is the fifth        APD patrol this night nets
    Lake’s Chevy pickup is in
  the right lane and he keeps his
                                          David Lake looks in his rearview                                  worst intersection in New         about a dozen offenders. And
  eye on the headlights.                                                                                    Mexico in terms of accidents,     the New Mexico State Police
    “I figured he was going to
                                       mirror and sees headlights behind him.                               and police think drunken          will pop 37 people for DWI
  slow down,” Lake says.                                                                                    drivers contribute to that        before the weekend ends.
  Instead, he says, “he just kept      “I figured he was going to slow down,”                               statistic. That is why              The record setter is a man
  on coming.”                                                                                               Campbell and about a dozen        stopped outside Las Cruces
    Lake braces for the impact         he says. But “he just kept on coming.”                               other officers are covering the   who is charged with his
  and the car bangs into the                                                                                streets leading into the          24th DWI.                   ➔
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4       SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002



    IN A STATE OF ADDICTIONS, MANY DAYS END IN DEATH
                                                                              10:30 P.M.                           An APD officer                   night, brothers Lyle and
                                                                                                                                                    Julison Jim are heading home
                                                                                APD officers are responding                                         for the Easter weekend. Lyle
                                                                              to two unrelated accidents           pulls his patrol                 Jim, 27, a student at TVI, has
                                                                              within sight of each other on                                         been living in Albuquerque.
                                                                              Coors Boulevard on                 car on an angle to                 He and his 29-year-old brother
                                                                                                                                                    are driving to Fort Defiance,
                                                                              Albuquerque’s West Side.
                                                                              Neither wreck involves                                                Ariz., the family’s hometown
                                                                              someone who has been
                                                                                                                  block traffic from                on the Navajo reservation.
                                                                              drinking, and the officers                                               They are drinking this
                                                                              follow their usual procedures       an accident scene                 evening, Julison Jim later tells
                                                                              for investigating and cleaning                                        police. Somewhere between
                                                                              up a minor accident.
                                                                                An APD officer pulls his
                                                                                                                  and parks it with                 the Bluewater Lake and
                                                                                                                                                    Prewitt exits on I-40 west of
                                                                              patrol car on an angle to block                                       Grants, they get off the
                                                                              traffic from the accident          his lights flashing.               interstate and then back on —
                                                                              scene and parks it with his                                           headed in the wrong direction.
                                                                              lights flashing.                     Diana Smith is                      Thirty-five-year-old truck
                                                                                Diana Smith, 30, is driving                                         driver Christopher Frevele of
                                                                              northbound on Coors. The
                                                                              Albuquerque woman drives
                                                                                                                    driving north-                  Indianapolis is also heading
                                                                                                                                                    home along I-40. It is late and
                                                                              right into the patrol car.                                            Frevele’s partner and 13-year-
                                                                                Officers smell alcohol on         bound on Coors.                   old son are in the sleeping
                                                                              her breath, ask her to perform                                        compartment of the Volvo
                                                                              a field sobriety test and arrest     She drives right                 tractor-trailer as it rolls
                                                                              her for DWI. She is                                                   toward Albuquerque at 75
                                                                              handcuffed and placed in the
                                                                              back seat of another patrol
                                                                                                                 into the patrol car.               mph.
                                                                                                                                                       Frevele passes under the
                                                                              car.                                                                  bridge at the Prewitt
                                                                                Minutes later, Sgt. Mark           She is arrested                  interchange and is surprised
                                                                              Garcia and Patrol Officer                                             to see headlights facing him.
                                                                              Esther Garcia are standing in
                                                                              front of that car when a 17-
                                                                                                                     for drunken                       Frevele hits the brakes and
                                                                                                                                                    swerves to try to avoid the
                                                                              year-old driver slams into it.
                                                                              He is not drinking, only                 driving.                     little car heading straight at
                                                                                                                                                    him.
                                                                              inattentive.
                                                                                                                 injured. The paramedics who           There is not enough time.
                                                                                                                 deliver the driver and his         The tractor-trailer and the
                                                                              11:01 P.M.                         injured friend report “alcohol     Dodge Neon collide head on.
                                                                                                                                                       Police cars and ambulances
                                                                                                                 on board.”
                                                                                An ambulance pulls up to           Police who responded to the      head to the scene of broken
                                                                              the back door of the               crash say both men had been        glass, twisted metal and
                                                                              University of New Mexico           drinking when the driver spun      scattered beer bottles. In
                                                                              Hospital’s trauma center and       out of control and rolled into     Albuquerque, the pager of the
                                                                              David Lake, strapped to a          the ditch.                         Office of the Medical
                                                                              back board, is wheeled into          At the same time, three          Investigator’s coroner on call
                                                     ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL   the emergency room. Police,        more injured men are on their      this weekend goes off.
    “I’M JUST A STATISTIC:” David Lake waits to have his neck                 meanwhile, are looking with        way to the hospital from a
    and spine X-rayed at the University of New Mexico trauma cen-             no luck for a small car — Lake     high-speed rear-end collision
    ter after a hit-and-run driver, who smelled of alcohol, rear-ended        thinks it might have been a        outside of Gallup. The driver      1:34 A.M. SATURDAY
    him on Interstate 40.                                                     Ford Escort — with Texas           in that accident registers a .38
                                                                                                                                                      New Mexico State Police
                                                                              plates.                            blood-alcohol level — 4{
                                                                                                                                                    officers are on the scene out-
                                                                                Lake’s back injury is painful    times the legal limit.
                                                                                                                                                    side Prewitt on Interstate 40,
                                                                              but not serious, and he will be      Veteran charge nurse Jane
                                                                                                                                                    sorting out the head-on crash
                                                                              sent home in a few hours. His      Rich sees a busy shift shaping
                                                                                                                                                    between a Volvo tractor-trail-
                                                                              own condition report? “Tired,      up for her overnight crew and,
                                                                                                                                                    er and a Dodge Neon.
                                                                              sore, disgusted.”                  characteristically, drinking
                                                                                                                 and driving are fueling her          Emergency medical techni-
                                                                                “And he’ll probably never
                                                                                                                 business.                          cians from Grants have taken
                                                                              get caught,” Lake says. “I’m
                                                                                                                   “It’s the one thing I hate       Julison Jim to the hospital in
                                                                              just a statistic.”
                                                                                                                 about this job,” says Rich. “I     Grants.
                                                                                                                 wish people in New Mexico            Truck driver Christopher
                                                                              11:05 P.M.                         knew what a problem we have        Frevele has only a cut elbow,
                                                                                                                 with drunk driving. This           even though his truck skidded
                                                                                Two more men are wheeled         happens all the time.”             and rolled onto the driver’s
                                                                              into the trauma room at UNM                                           side.
                                                    ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL    Hospital, injured in a rollover                                         Frevele’s passengers have
    HIT FROM BEHIND: Diana Smith of Albuquerque, arrested for                 accident on I-40 between           11:59 P.M.                         some bumps and bruises but
    drunken driving after plowing into an Albuquerque Police Depart-          Santa Rosa and Tucumcari.                                             are OK.
    ment car, was handcuffed in the back seat of this patrol car              One man, who was ejected             Like many of the motorists         The body of Lyle Jim, the
    when it was hit by an inattentive, but sober, driver.                     from his pickup, is seriously      on Interstate 40 this Friday       27-year-old who was dri-      ➔
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SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002                                                                                                                                                                    5


 VIOLENT DEATH, A 100 MPH CARJACKER CHASE AND ALIENS ON I-40
  ving the car, lies on the road-                                                                                                                blood because they suspect he
  way where it landed. Jim’s                                                                                                                     is intoxicated. He is later
  body is zipped into a rubber-                                                                                                                  charged with DWI.
  ized bag and driven to the                                                                                                                       “There was reason to sus-
  Office of the Medical Investi-                                                                                                                 pect,” Baughman says, “that
  gator in Albuquerque. It                                                                                                                       he might be under the influ-
  appears that Jim died instant-                                                                                                                 ence of something.”
  ly when the force of the colli-
  sion sent him flying from the
  car.                                                                                                                                           9:25 A.M.
    An autopsy will shed light
                                                                                                                                                   At St. Vincent Hospital in
  on just how Jim died. State
                                                                                                                                                 Santa Fe, Johnathan Pollock
  Police already believe they
                                                                                                                                                 Jr. succumbs to injuries he
  know why he died.
                                                                                                                                                 suffered in a drunken driving
    “Empty beer containers
                                                                                                                                                 accident outside Las Vegas.
  inside and out,” says State
                                                                                                                                                   Pollock is 18 and has been
  Police Capt. Tim Baughman.
                                                                                                                                                 battling internal organ and
  They classify the accident as
                                                                                                                                                 spinal cord injuries for 13
  caused by drunken driving.
                                                                                                                                                 days.
                                                                                                                                                   The West Las Vegas High
  3:01 A.M.                                                                                                                                      School senior — a varsity
                                                                                                                                                 football player, wrestler, saxo-
    The 1990 Honda speeding                                                                                                                      phonist and honor roll mem-
  along I-40 just west of the                                                                                                                    ber — was riding in a pickup
  Continental Divide catches                                                                                                                     driven by a friend, 17-year-old
  the attention of David Abeita,                                                                                                                 Lyle Kretz, on March 11 when
  an officer in the Department                                                                                                                   the truck veered off Inter-
  of Public Safety’s Motor                                                                                                                       state 25 into the median. It hit
  Transportation Division.                                                                                                                       dirt and rolled three times.
    A check of the license plate                                                                                                                   Pollock and Kretz had been
  shows that the car was taken                                                                                                                   at a party and were headed
  in a carjacking in Albu-                                                                                                                       home. Neither was wearing a
  querque. Abeita begins his                                                                                                                     seat belt. Pollock was thrown
  pursuit.                                                                                                              ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL   from the truck.
    The driver speeds up and          THE PRICE OF DWI: The body of Lyle Jim is wheeled into the autopsy suite at the Office of the                Kretz was treated for minor
  begins weaving in and out of        Medical Investigator in Albuquerque. Jim was drunk and driving in the wrong direction on Interstate        injuries and taken to jail. His
  freeway traffic, flashing his       40 when he hit a semi-truck.                                                                               blood-alcohol level was .13,
  headlights and on occasion                                                                                                                     nearly twice the legal limit for
                                                                                                                                                 prosecution and well over the
  turning them off. He hits 100
  mph.
                                       One look at Lyle Jim bears out the violence of his death. His                                             .02 level at which a teen’s dri-
                                                                                                                                                 ver’s license can be revoked.
    Abeita is able to pull the dri-
  ver — a San Diego, Calif., man
                                       skull is fractured; his jaw is broken; his neck is broken; and                                              He told police he had three
                                                                                                                                                 or four beers.
  in his 20s — over just east of
  Gallup and arrest him for a          his pelvis, hip and ribs are broken. “This,” says pathologist                                               Matthew Sandoval, the Dis-
                                                                                                                                                 trict Attorney in Las Vegas, is
  number of crimes, including                                                                                                                    notified of Pollock’s death and
  DWI.                                Rebecca Irvine, “is what we call multiple blunt-force trauma.”                                             prepares to amend the
                                                                                                                                                 charges against Kretz, adding
                                      give the chase over to State
  4:30 A.M.                           Police.
                                                                                                                                                 one count of vehicular homi-
                                                                                                                                                 cide.
    I-40, New Mexico’s east-            Grants police lay down a                                                                                   Pollock’s body is bound for
  west artery, has been host to       spike belt at marker 85, and                                                                               the Office of the Medical
  some hellacious accidents.          McKinley County Sheriff’s                                                                                  Investigator, then a funeral
  Just this year, four people         deputies lay down spikes at                                                                                home in Las Vegas. He leaves
  were killed on it in a head-on      markers 47, 34, 29 and 22.                                                                                 behind parents, grandparents
  collision west of Albuquerque         At this point, the truck is                                                                              and six brothers and sisters.
  and seven died in a multi-car       driving on the rims.
  pile-up in eastern New Mexi-          At mile marker 16, just past                                                                             9:30 A.M.
  co.                                 Gallup and 98 miles after the
    Abeita is still doing his         chase began, the trucker gets                                                                                Pathologist Rebecca Irvine
  paperwork when Laguna               off the interstate, drives for a                                                                           is already suited up in    ➔
  Pueblo police spot a swerving       few miles on a two-lane state
  International tractor-trailer       road and pulls to a stop in a                                                                              ER CLEANUP: Emergency
  weaving in and out of traffic       field.                                                                                                     room resident Brian Hoerne-
  on I-40. They know they have          Ricky Collins, a 46-year-old                                                                             man and nurse Meredith Som-
  to get the truck off the road.      Texan, steps out of the cab                                                                                mers stabilize a patient who
  They give chase at mile mark-       and tells police he has been                                                                               was flown to University of
  er 114, just east of the main       chased by aliens.                                                                                          New Mexico Hospital from a
  pueblo village. At mile marker        Collins is arrested on many                                                                              DWI accident near Gallup.
  96, at Acoma Pueblo, they           charges, and police draw                                                                                                ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
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6       SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002



TEARS, TRAUMA AND GRIM EXPECTATIONS AT THE HOSPITALROOM
    hospital scrubs and a             above the legal limit when he     and his heart is ripped.
    waterproof apron when a           died.                               “This,” Irvine says, “is what
    technician begins undressing        Irvine then begins the          we call multiple blunt-force
    Lyle Jim’s battered body so       methodical process of             trauma.”
    his autopsy can begin.            examining Jim’s internal
      His brother, Julison, is on a   organs.
    gurney in the emergency             Members of Mothers
                                                                        6:25 P.M.
    room at UNM Hospital next         Against Drunk Driving and           Marlene and Todd Walkows-
    door, where he has been           other anti-DWI crusaders          ki are headed home to Taos
    transferred by ambulance          often object when the word        Pueblo after a day of riding
    from the hospital in Grants.      “accident” is used to describe    their Harley with friends
    Doctors are monitoring his        alcohol-related collisions that   through Northern New Mexi-
    injuries.                         injure or kill.                   co. It is a beautiful day and
      The question in the autopsy       Fatal DWI collisions are not    they stop in Taos for a few
    room is how did Lyle Jim die      accidents, they argue, but        drinks.
    and how much alcohol was in       violent crimes.                     On Paseo del Pueblo in Taos,
    his system.                         One look at Jim bears out       a car cuts in front of
      Technicians take a blood        the violence of his death.        Walkowski, a carpenter, and
    sample and a sample of fluid        His skull is fractured; his     he lays the bike down. His 40-
    from behind the eye from          jaw is broken; his neck is
    every body they autopsy. They                                       year-old wife, a Bureau of
                                      broken; and his pelvis, hip and                                     TOO MUCH TO HANDLE: The cumulative toll of drinking and
    have it checked for drugs,                                          Indian Affairs firefighter, is
                                      ribs are broken.                                                    driving is too much for trauma nurse Jane Rich. Rich is comfort-
    alcohol, poison and a host of                                       thrown and lands face down
                                        His left arm is broken in two                                     ed by ER tech Kevin McFarland after she breaks down.
    other substances that might                                         on the pavement.
                                      places; his right arm is broken
    shed light on the person’s                                                                            toward University of New              best, but Chavez’s injuries are
                                      in three places and nearly
    health and death.
                                      severed at the armpit.            7 P.M.                            Mexico Hospital with 88-year-         too severe and there is noth-
      Jim’s results will show his                                                                         old Bonifacia Chavez inside.          ing they can do to save her.
                                        His diaphragm is torn; his
    blood-alcohol level was well                                          An ambulance speeds               The trauma team tries its             Trained by experience to
                                      liver is cut; his lung is torn;
                                                                                                                                                guess that a pedestrian hit by
                                                                                                                                                a car on a Saturday night is
                                                                                                                                                the victim of drunken driving,
                                                                                                                                                charge nurse Jane Rich gets
                                                                                                                                                angry, then sits down and
                                                                                                                                                cries.
                                                                                                                                                  It turns out the driver who
                                                                                                                                                hit Chavez had not been drink-
                                                                                                                                                ing — he just couldn’t stop
                                                                                                                                                when Chavez stepped off the
                                                                                                                                                curb. The news erases Rich’s
                                                                                                                                                anger, but her sadness
                                                                                                                                                remains.
                                                                                                                                                  “It gets to you after a
                                                                                                                                                while,” Rich says.
                                                                                                                                                  Doctors and nurses in the
                                                                                                                                                emergency room cannot
                                                                                                                                                linger on the death for long,
                                                                                                                                                though. The Lifeguard heli-
                                                                                                                                                copter is taking off to pick up
                                                                                                                                                Marlene Walkowski in Taos.
                                                                                                                                                Her motorcycle leathers pro-
                                                                                                                                                tected her body, but she was-
                                                                                                                                                n’t wearing a helmet and doc-
                                                                                                                                                tors worry about bleeding in
                                                                                                                                                her brain.


                                                                                                                                                11:10 P.M.
                                                                                                                                                  Lifeguard lands on the UNM
                                                                                                                                                Hospital roof and paramedics
                                                                                                                                                give their report on Marlene
                                                                                                                                                Walkowski: No helmet, a head
                                                                                                                                                injury and a blood-alcohol of
                                                                                                                                                more than .20.
                                                                                                                       ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
                                                                                                                                                  Todd Walkowski has not
    LEATHERS, NO HELMET: Marlene Walkowski of Taos, with a blood-alcohol level of more than .20, is loaded off the Lifeguard chopper            been charged with DWI. An
    on the roof at University of New Mexico Hospital. Walkowski was the passenger on a motorcycle that crashed in an accident still             investigation is pending. Mar-
    under investigation by Taos police.                                                                                                         lene Walkowski is not       ➔
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SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002                                                                                                                                                           7


 BICYCLIST’S NEARLY LETHAL BLOOD-ALCOHOL LEVEL A SHOCK
  charged because she is the       the hospital keeps on hand         car on the right at an inter-   5:30 P.M.                         Valdez waits for the Navajo
  passenger.                       and it registers .52. That is 6{   section.                                                          Nation police to arrive to
                                   times the legal limit for            He was riding his bike                                          place the driver under arrest
                                   operating a motor vehicle. It                                        New Mexico State Police
                                                                      because his driver’s license                                      for DWI. While he waits, his
  4:15 P.M. SUNDAY                 is close to being lethal.                                          officer Greg Valdez arrives at
                                                                      was revoked. Court records                                        radio reports another rollover
                                     “Wow,” says Mike Chi-                                            the scene of a rollover acci-
                                                                      show a string of DWI arrests                                      a few miles away.
    Joseph Mendez arrives at       carelli, the charge nurse on                                       dent on a dirt road outside the
                                                                      going back to 1982.
  the trauma center at Universi-   duty tonight.                                                      Navajo Nation community of
                                                                        “People run you off the
  ty of New Mexico Hospital in       The hospital routinely sees      road,” Mendez complains.
                                                                                                      Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle and is       5:59 P.M.
  a condition that shocks even     blood-alcohol levels of .20                                        surprised to find that none of
                                                                      “They have no consideration
  emergency room veterans.         and .30, although Chicarelli       for people on bikes.”           the four occupants of the           APD Sgt. J. Bledsoe is
    Mendez, 46, was riding his     once treated a man — still                                         sedan is seriously injured.       stopped on the shoulder of I-
                                                                        Despite his alarmingly
  bicycle on Lomas and Second      alive — with a .70.                                                The driver, his wife and a        40 in Albuquerque checking
                                                                      high Breathalyzer score,
  Street in Downtown Albu-           A person with a .52 level        Mendez says he purchased        baby and toddler in the car       on a motorist with a disabled
  querque on this Easter, he       like Mendez’s is usually           only two beers today.           were all buckled into seat        car. He is parked more than a
  tells police, when he was hit    dead or passed out.                                                belts.                            car width off the roadway and
                                                                        “Me and this friend of
  by a car.                          Mendez, however, is alert        mine,” he says. “He had one       The driver, who is stagger-     has left the driver’s door
    It is not Mendez’s injuries    and happy to talk.                 and I had one.”                 ing around outside the car,       open.
  that are surprising — he does-     Mendez got onto his bicy-          He got that drunk on one      smells like alcohol and admits      Tiffany Alexander, who is
  n’t appear hurt. But he blows    cle to ride to the bank and        beer? “It was a tall one,”      having been drinking before       driving along I-40 in the right
  into one of the Breathalyzers    was hit when he passed a           Mendez says.                    he lost control of the car.       lane, veers off the inter-   ➔




                                                                                                                                                     ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
  OPEN KEG ON I-25: Open beer cans, a keg and cups survived the crash that sent the occupants of the car — primarily teens — to the hospital.
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8       SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002



    DRUNK ON EASTER CANDY; TEENS AND A KEG IN THE BACK SEAT
    state, hits the door of the        board stretch of the road, fish-    son to die this weekend as a       driver moves into the same          Romero, the most seriously
    patrol car and comes to a stop     tails, skids, hits a dirt embank-   result of an accident that         lane, she swerves and smash-        injured girl in the car that
    80 yards away.                     ment and flips.                     involves alcohol.                  es into a concrete barrier.         crashed on I-25 has been
      “At least I stopped,” Alexan-                                                                                                               moved from the UNM Hospi-
                                         The people run to the car                                                                                tal trauma room to a bed in
    der tells the officer. “I’m a      and find Charleston Martinez,
                                                                           8 P.M.                             11:20 P.M.                          the emergency room. Lue-
    good girl.”                        a 22-year-old neighbor, still                                                                              vano, who has been evaluated
      She is arrested for DWI but      buckled into his seat. His head                                           Although bicyclist Joseph        for a possible concussion, and
                                                                             Tina Lucher is driving south
    blames her bloodshot eyes and      has hit the car’s ceiling.          on Interstate 25 through Albu-     Mendez is not injured, only         Rojas, who is not injured, wait
                                                                           querque without a valid dri-       drunk, it is the hospital’s poli-   with Romero.
    the smell of alcohol on several      They pull him out, check for
                                                                           ver’s license. In the passenger    cy not to release a patient
    liquor-filled chocolates she ate   a pulse, find none and drive to                                                                              Four beds away, APD offi-
                                                                           seat next to her is a 22-year-     until the alcohol level in his
    for Easter.                        the convenience store a mile                                                                               cer Holly Garcia makes sure a
                                                                           old man she knows only as          blood falls under the legal lim-    blood sample from Lucher is
                                       away to call police.
                                                                           “Weedo” and several open           it.                                 drawn and tagged.
    6 P.M.                               Officer Valdez gets the call                                            Because of his high alcohol
                                                                           cans of Bud Light. In the back                                           Lucher has registered a .098
                                       and arrives a short time later.                                        level, Mendez will spend the
                                                                           seat are 19-year-old Deziree                                           on the Breathalyzer, well
      Two people are sitting out-      Budweiser cans, open and            Luevano, 13-year-old Christina     night. He is on a bed next to
                                       empty, are found inside the                                                                                above the legal limit.
    side their house near Nageezi                                          Rojas, 11-year-old Charlene        the nurse’s station, fast asleep
    on the road that leads to Cha-     car. Valdez makes arrange-          Romero, an open keg of beer        and snoring.                         “Have you been drinking?”
    co Canyon, enjoying the warm       ments for a coroner to pro-         and plastic cups.                                                      Garcia asks her.
                                       nounce Martinez dead.
    Easter evening when they see
    a car speeding down the dirt         Martinez’s blood-alcohol lev-
                                                                             Lucher is 17.                    11:30 P.M.                            “A lot,” Lucher answers.
                                                                                                                                                  “I’m in a lot of trouble when I
                                                                             She pulls to the right to pass
    road. The car hits a wash-         el is .199. He is the third per-    a slower car and, when that          Eleven-year-old Charlene          get out of here.” ■




                                                                                                                                                               ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
    “I’M IN A LOT OF TROUBLE:” This car spun and hit a concrete barrier on Interstate 25, injuring its young occupants. Tina Lucher, the 17-year-old driver, was legally
    drunk, according to a Breathalyzer test.
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SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002                                                                                                                                                                     9
                                                                                                                                                      By Thomas J. Cole
                                                                                                                                                      Journal Investigative Reporter




            DWI BRAKES
                                                                                                                                                                 ax DiJulio says it was




                                                                                                                                                      M
                                                                                                                                                                 love at first sight when
                                                                                                                                                                 he was introduced to
                                                                                                                                                                 Mary Louise Allin.
                                                                                                                                                                   “I had it as soon as I
                                                                                                                                                                 met her,” DiJulio says.
                                                                                                                                                      “It was over for me. She was a
                                                                                                                                                      terrific lady, a helluva lot better
                                                                                                                                                      than me.”
                                                                                                                                                        They were married just 10
                                                                                                                                                      years.
                                                                                                                                                        Mary Louise




              FAILING
                                                                                                                                                      DiJulio, 64, a
                                                                                                                                                      retired managing
                                                                                                                                                      editor of Reader’s
                                                                                                                                                      Digest, was killed
                                                                                                                                                      by a drunken
                                                                                                                                                      driver last June
                                                                                                                                                      on U.S. 84/285 just
                                                                                                                                                      north of Santa Fe.
                                                                                                                                                        She was one of
                                                                                                                                                      at least 201 people M. DIJULIO:
                                                                                                                                                      to die in alcohol-     Killed by
                                                                                                                                                      related accidents drunken dri-
                                                                                                                                                      on New Mexico’s ver last June
                  ALCOHOL-RELATED CRASH FATALITIES                                                                                                    highways in 2001.
                                                                                                                                                        It was the worst year for
                                                                                                                                                      alcohol-related crash deaths since
                                                                                                                                                      at least 1997, with a number of
                 ACCELERATE FOR THIRD YEAR IN A ROW                                                                                                   accidents still under investigation.
                                                                                                                                                      It was the third consecutive year
                                                                                                                                                      the number of deaths has
                                                                                                                                                      increased.
                                                                                                                                                        The jump has reversed some of
                                                                                                                                                      the progress New Mexico made
                                                                                                                                                      against its drunken driving
                                                                                                                                                      problem in the 1980s and much of
                                                                                                                                                      the ’90s.
                                                                                                                                                        “The system has crept back to
                                                                                                                                                      complacency,” says state Highway
                                                                                                                                                      and Transportation Secretary Pete
                                                                                                                                                      Rahn, who oversees the Traffic
                                                                                                                                                      Safety Bureau. “Do we have to
                                                                                                                                                      lose a family member to decide
                                                                                                                                                      drunken driving is a problem?”
                                                                                                                                                        The state remains one of the
                                                                                                                                                      worst in the nation in the
                                                                                                                                                      percentage of traffic deaths
                                                                                                                                                      related to alcohol, and in alcohol-
                                                                                                                                                      related crash fatalities based on
                                                                                                                                                      population.
                                                                                                                                                        Drunken driving is the leading
                                                                                                                                                      cause of injury and death for New
                                                                                                                                                      Mexicans between the ages of 1
                                                                                                                                                      and 44.
                                                                                                                                                        It doesn’t have to be this way.
                                                                                                                                                        There is plenty of research on
                                                                                                                                                      what tools are effective in
                                                                                                                                                      combating drunken driving.
                                                                                                                                                        There is nearly unanimous
                                                                                                                                                      agreement that aggressive law
                                                                                                                                                      enforcement is a big part of the
                                                                                                                                                      solution. One advocacy group says
                                                                                                                                                      more aggressive statewide
                                                                                                                                                      enforcement in New Mexico could
                                                                                                                                                      save more than 40 lives a year.
                                                                                                                                                        Because it’s impossible to catch
                                                                                                                                                      all drunken drivers, people must
                                                                                                                                                      be deterred from drinking and
                                                                                                                                                      driving by fear of arrest.
                                                                                                                                                        But some law enforcement
                                                                                                                                                      agencies aren’t getting the job
                                                                                                                                                      done because they are either
                                                                                                                                                      unable or unwilling.
                                                                                                                                                        Some don’t even take advantage
                                                                                                                                                      of state funding for sobriety
                                                                                                             PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/FOR THE JOURNAL   checkpoints and saturation patrols
THERE’S NO FORGETTING: Max DiJulio visits the spot just north of Santa Fe where his wife, Mary Louise DiJulio, was killed by a drunken dri-           — proven tools in the fight against
ver. He says he’s trying to hang on to the memories of their 10 years together.                                                                       drunken driving.                    ➔
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10 SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002
                                                                                                                                                        those types of accidents and
DWI BRAKES                                                                                                                                              fatalities,” says Santa Fe Police
                                                                                                                                                        Chief John Denko, a former
  As a result, enforcement of DWI                                                                                                                       State Police chief and president
laws is uneven across the state.                                                                                                                        of the New Mexico Municipal
  Fewer drunken drivers are                                                                                                                             Chiefs of Police Association.
being arrested and many counties                                                                                                                          The 300 Lives Initiative by the
with low DWI arrest rates rank                                                                                                                          nonprofit DWI Resource Center
high in alcohol-related crashes.                                                                                                                        in Albuquerque says stronger
                                                                                                                                                        enforcement would save an esti-
Cross to bear                                                                                                                                           mated 98 lives by the end of
                                                                                                                                                        2005.
  Max DiJulio, 82, who compos-                                                                                                                            Adding 100
es and arranges music, lives                                                                                                                            State Police offi-
alone in the Santa Fe condomini-                                                                                                                        cers for traffic
um he once shared with his                                                                                                                              enforcement
wife.                                                                                                                                                   would save 43
  He’s lonely and trying to hang                                                                                                                        more, the center
on to the memories.                                                                                                                                     says.
  “I don’t want to get over it,”                                                                                                                          Rahn says law
he says.                                                                                                                                                enforcement
  The spot where Mary Louise                                                                                                                            needs to do its     DENKO:
died is marked with a cross.                                                                                                                            job, but officers Santa Fe
Just a few feet away is a second                                                                                                                        are discouraged police chief
cross for the drunken driver.                                                                                                                           by the failure of
  The ground where the crosses                                                                                                                          the courts to deliver swift and
stand is littered with empty                                                                                                                            sure punishment.
liquor and beer bottles thrown                                                                                                                            State Police Deputy Chief
from passing vehicles.                                                                                                                                  Michael Francis says DWI
                                                                                                                                                        arrests by the agency have lev-
‘It’s not over with’                                                                                                           ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
                                                                                                                                                        eled or declined in some areas
                                      ASSERTIVE APPROACH: Alamogordo Public Safety officer Bobby Pacheco handcuffs suspected drunken                    because some drivers have got-
  Most New Mexicans drink —           driver Ronald P. Archer at a sobriety checkpoint. Such checkpoints are proven deterrents in the fight
beer being the most popular                                                                                                                             ten the message.
                                      against drunken driving. Archer was later convicted.
beverage — and many have a
problem.                                                                                                                                                ‘So close to home’
  The state’s death                                                                                                                                       Joe Henry Thomason began his
rate from alcohol-                                                          Agencies involved                                                           last day like every day.
related diseases                                                                                                                                          Trailed as always by a
and injuries is                                                             in Operation DWI                                                            neighbor’s dog, Thomason walked
among the highest                                                           Only about half of New Mexico’s local law enforcement agencies take         more than a mile from his home in
in the nation.                                                              part in Operation DWI. Participants in 2002:                                El Prado, just north of Taos, to a
  And New                                                                                                                                               Texaco station to buy a morning
Mexicans like to                                                            Sheriff’s        Santa Fe          Deming           Santa Fe                newspaper.
mix drinking and                                                            departments                                                                   He was well liked by the
                                                                                             Socorro           Española         Santa Rosa
driving. About         MILFORD:                                             Bernalillo                                                                  workers at the station. Tourists
one in 75 drivers      State chair-                                                          Torrance          Estancia         Silver City             there sometimes mistook him for
is arrested each                                                            Chaves                             Eunice           Socorro                 Willie Nelson because of his
                       woman of                                                              Municipal
year for DWI.          Mothers                                              Colfax           police            Farmington       Springer                beard, ponytail, southern accent
Tens of thousands Against                                                   De Baca                                                                     and trademark bandanna.
more drive drunk Drunk Driving                                                               Alamogordo        Gallup           Sunland Park
                                                                                                                                                          Thomason was headed home
and are never                                                               Doña Ana         Albuquerque       Grants           Texico                  when a driver struck and killed
caught.                                                                     Eddy             Artesia           Hobbs            Truth or Con-           him.
  In response to the toll on the                                            Grant                                               sequences                 The driver, who has been
highways, the state enacted                                                                  Aztec             Las Cruces
                                                                                                                                Tucumcari               charged with homicide by vehicle
several laws in the mid-1990s to                                            Los Alamos       Bayard            Las Vegas                                and DWI, was allegedly drunk, en
                                                                                                                                Tularosa
combat drunken driving.                                                     Luna             Belen             Los Lunas                                route to a store to buy more beer.
  The state lowered the legal                                                                                                   Zuni                    It was 8:45 on a weekday morning.
                                                                            McKinley         Bernalillo        Loving
blood-alcohol limit to .08,                                                                                                     Other                     Thomason, a retired elementary
increased penalties for drunken                                             Mora             Bloomfield        Lovington                                school principal from Arkansas,
driving and became the only state     Mothers Against Drunk Driving.        Otero                                               Acoma Tribal
                                                                                             Bosque Farms      Moriarty                                 was 66.
to set aside part of its liquor       “It’s not over with. It could be                                                          Pojoaque
                                                                            Rio Arriba       Cimarron          Raton                                      A cross marking the spot where
excise tax to fund anti-DWI           your family next.”                                                                        Tribal                  he died on Millicent Rogers Road
programs.                               The death of Milford’s daughter     Roosevelt        Clayton           Rio Rancho       Zuni Tribal             is decorated with flowers and a
  The number of alcohol-related       and three granddaughters in a         San Juan         Cloudcroft        Ruidoso                                  Texaco banner.
crash fatalities dropped from 235     drunken driving crash on                                                                      — Source:
                                                                            San Miguel       Clovis            San Ysidro                                 Thomason’s widow, Susan,
in 1996 to 213 in 1997 and 188 in     Christmas Eve 1992 helped spark                                                             State Traffic         drives past the cross on many
1998.                                 the state changes in DWI laws.        Sandoval         Corrales          Santa Clara       Safety Bureau          days.
  But the picture has changed                                                                                                                             “I guess that’s been the hardest
since 1999, when the number of
                                      Enforcement counts                                                                                                part,” she says. “It happened so
alcohol-related crash deaths rose       Fighting drunken driving is       National Highway Traffic Safe-         “The bottom line is, if they get       close to home.”
to 193. It jumped to 195 in 2000.     part art and part science.          ty Administration also found         behind the wheel, it’s law                 The Thomasons were college
The 201 figure for last year is         Many studies have been con-       evidence that fewer people           enforcement that puts them               sweethearts. They had been
preliminary and could go higher.      ducted to identify what works       drove drunk when law enforce-        away,” says Ness, a former Tor-          married 45 years, the parents of
  The number of fatal and             and what doesn’t.                   ment was certain to be in the        rance County sheriff.                    two. She was a special education
nonfatal alcohol-related crashes is     A federal plan to reduce alco-    area.                                  A total of 19,304 drivers were         teacher.
also on the rise, jumping from        hol-related crash deaths recom-       Law enforcement is the first       arrested for DWI in New Mexi-              They retired to Taos in 1990,
3,219 in 1999 to 3,580 the            mends, “Embrace active, high        line of defense against drunken      co in 2000. That was down from           and it was glorious. They often
following year.                       visibility law enforcement. …       drivers, says Richard Ness,          20,604 in 1991 and a decade-high         played tennis together and
  “Everybody thought we already       We know what works.”                executive director of the New        of 24,437 in 1993.                       traveled a lot to visit family. She
dealt with” DWI, says Nadine            A study of repeat DWI offend-     Mexico Sheriffs and Police             “If we could increase those            quilted and he cooked.
Milford, state chairwoman of          ers conducted in 1996 for the       Association.                         arrests, we would decrease                 Today, Nana, the dog that       ➔
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SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002                                                                                                                                         11

                                                                                                                              DWI BRAKES
                                                                                                                             trailed Joe to the Texaco, goes for
                                                                                                                             morning walks with Susan. She
                                                                                                                             misses seeing her husband sitting
                                                                                                                             on the patio and working his daily
                                                                                                                             crossword puzzles.
                                                                                                                               “I stay very, very busy,” Susan
                                                                                                                             Thomason says. “I take it a day at a
                                                                                                                             time. I’m not the first person who
                                                                                                                             has had tragedy in their life.
                                                                                                                             You’ve got to go on. You can’t
                                                                                                                             crawl in a hole.”
                                                                                                                               Taos County is one of the worst
                                                                                                                             in the state for alcohol-related
                                                                                                                             crashes. Its arrest rate for DWI is
                                                                                                                             also among the worst.
                                                                                                                               “It’s a matter of the law not
                                                                                                                             being enforced,” Thomason says.
                                                                                                                             “I’m not sure the city is interested
                                                                                                                             in doing anything about the
                                                                                                                             problem, or the county. I haven’t
                                                                                                                             heard anything that anybody cares
                                                                                                                             enough to make changes.”
                                                                                                                               She says she isn’t interested in
                                                                                                                             becoming an activist.
                                                                                                                               “It would turn me into an angry
                                                                                                                             person,” Thomason says. “I don’t
                                                                                                                             want to be like that.”

                                                                                                                             Good ol’ boy system
                                                                                                                           Taos County isn’t alone in having
                                                                                                                         a high rate of alcohol-related
                                                                                                                         crashes and a low rate of arrests.
                                                                                                                           Six other counties in 2000 ranked
                                                                                                                         in the top 10 for crashes and the
                                                                                                                         bottom 10 for arrests. (See graphic
                                                                                                                         at left).
                                                                                                                           County sheriffs and local police
                                                                                                                         make 80 percent of the DWI
                                                                                                  ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL arrests in New Mexico.
                      NOT ENOUGH TIME: Susan Thomason says she reflects daily on her 45 years of marriage to               State Police are also critical in
                      Joe Henry Thomason. A retired elementary school principal, he was struck and killed on his rural areas, making one in four
                      daily walk in El Prado, just north of Taos. Police say the driver was drunk and on his way to arrests outside of Albuquerque and
                      buy more beer.                                                                                     Bernalillo County.                  ➔



                        life sentences                           by Leslie Linthicum

                       SANDRA SUAZO, 26                                                     Alcalde and driven the
                                                                                            wrong way on the divided
                                                                                                                               arrested again for DWI.
                                                                                                                                 Velasquez pleaded no con-
                       Dixon                                                                highway for several miles          test to vehicular homicide in
                                                                                            before he slammed into Sua-        Suazo’s death and was
                       Killed by a drunken driver                                           zo’s Chrysler LeBaron.             paroled after six months. He
                                                                                               That was 12 years ago.          was arrested again for DWI
                                                                                            The crash robbed St. Antho-        in 1993 and 1994.
                       “We want the judge                                                   ny’s Parish in Dixon of a            Last November, Velasquez
                                                                                            dedicated volunteer, stole         was charged with DWI again
                       to make him stop.”                                                   one of Lupita Suazo’s three        after he was pulled over in
                                 ARLENE MAESTAS,                                            daughters and took from the        Hernandez. It was 9:30 a.m.
                          SANDRA SUAZO’S SISTER                                             world a smiling, laughing          and Velasquez was weaving
                                                                                            spirit.                            in and out of traffic with a
                         Sandra Suazo is frozen in                                             “She couldn’t carry a tune      10-year-old passenger help-
                       time in her family’s memo-                                           in a bucket,” said her sister,     ing him steer, according to
                       ries. Forever 26, she never                                          Arlene, “but she was learn-        police.
                       had the chance to marry her                                          ing how to play the guitar.”         “Please get me out of the
                                                                           COURTESY PHOTO
                       fiance and move into the                                                                                car,” the boy told police.
                       house they were fixing up.                                              Arlene Maestas and her
                                                                                            sister, Cindy Atencio, have        “He’s all drunk.”
                       She never had the chance to       Española where she worked
                                                         as a manager on the evening        their memories of Sandra’s           “It’s frustrating,” Cindy
                       finish her schooling and                                                                                Atencio said. “He’s out there
                       become a physical therapist.      she was hit and killed by a        life, and they also endure
                                                         drunken driver on her way          memories of her death —            living his life, and he’s at it
                       She never had the chance to                                                                             again.”
                       have children.                    home. Dominic Velasquez            every time they see
                         Suazo had stayed late at        had pulled onto N.M. 68            Velasquez around Española            Velasquez has since been
                       the doctor’s office in            after leaving a club in            or Santa Fe or read in the         held in jail on a $50,000 cash
                                                                                            newspaper that he has been         bond. His trial date is set for
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12 SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002


Who Should Police Target?
 EXPERTS DIFFER ON WHETHER REPEAT
  OFFENDERS ARE KEY TO SOLUTION
                 By Thomas J. Cole
                 Journal Investigative Reporter
                    It’s become an all too familiar story in New Mex-
                 ico: A motorist repeatedly arrested for DWI kills
                 while driving drunk yet again.
                    Lloyd Larson of Crownpoint, charged in a crash
                 Jan. 25 on Interstate 40 that killed two Nebraska
                 couples, had at least nine prior DWI arrests.
                    Repeat offenders cause a disproportionate share
FLINT:           of the state’s alcohol-related crashes. More simply
Former           put: A motorist who has been previously arrested
Traffic Safety   for DWI is a greater threat on the highway than a
Bureau chief     driver who hasn’t.
                    Still, a staggering two-thirds of all alcohol-relat-
                 ed fatal and nonfatal accidents are caused by dri-
                 vers who have never been arrested for DWI.
                    And that is the basis for a debate over how much
                 anti-DWI efforts should focus on repeat offenders
                 versus efforts aimed at the entire driving popula-
                                                                                                                                                                       ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
                 tion.
                                                                           DOING THE PAPERWORK: Alamogordo Public Safety officer Bobby Pacheco inspects a motorist’s driver’s
                    Steven Flint, a board member of the nonprofit
                 DWI Resource Center in Albuquerque and a for-             license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance at a sobriety checkpoint. Otero County has a high rate
                 mer chief of the state Traffic Safety Bureau, says        of DWI arrests and a low rate of drunken driving crashes.
                 New Mexico has focused too much on repeat
RAHN: State      offenders.                                                                                                                            re-election.”
Highway and         “They aren’t necessarily the key to the solution,”      DWI BRAKES                                                                   Only about half of New Mexico’s
Transpor-        Flint says.                                                                                                                           140 local law enforcement
tation              Drivers never arrested for drunken driving are           How vigorous law enforcement                                              agencies participate in Operation
secretary        more responsive to anti-DWI efforts, such as              is in combating DWI boils down to                                           DWI, a state program that funds
                 sobriety checkpoints, he says.                            two major issues: money and                                                 sobriety checkpoints and
                    “They are more concerned about losing their            attitude.                                                                   saturation patrols.
                 licenses, their reputations in their communities,           State Police make the majority                                              More than a dozen sheriff’s
                 how they are viewed by their families,” Flint says.       of the DWI arrests in Taos                                                  departments, including Taos
                    “Enforcement, by the research, is what would           County.                                                                     County, don’t take part.
                 save lives,” he says. “Saving lives is what it’s all        “I could probably reduce the                                                Taos County Sheriff Charlie
                 about.”                                                   accidents way down” with more                                               Martinez says he applied last year
                    The local DWI grant program, funded by rev-            officers, Francis says.                                                     with the state Traffic Safety
                 enues from the liquor excise tax, is an example of          Taos Police Chief Neil Curran, a                                          Bureau to take part in Operation
                 how New Mexico is overfocused on repeat offend-           former State Police chief, says he                                          DWI but never heard back from
HUERTAZ:         ers, Flint says.                                          has two fewer officers today than                                           the agency.
State               Local governments received $10.5 million under         when he took over the department                                              He says he hasn’t run
executive        the program in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2001,       in 1992.                                                                    checkpoints this year but did
director of      and only $934,000 of that went to enforcement.              “Could we do a better job? Yes.                                           about seven or eight in 2001.
Mothers             The rest was spent on prevention and planning          No doubt about it,” Curran says.                                            Saturation patrols are more
Against          and alcohol- and drug-abuse screening, outpatient         “You have to have resources.”
                                                                                                                                                       common, the sheriff says.
Drunk Driving    treatment, intensive supervision and alternative            Denko says law enforcement            “We are our own worst                 Lisa Kelloff, president of Safer
                 sentencing for DWI offenders.                             has other crimes to fight, and
                                                                           departments must prioritize             enemy. We are family, but           New Mexico Now, which
                    But Terry Huertaz, state executive director of                                                                                     contracts with law enforcement
                 Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says the focus on          limited resources.
                 repeat offenders is warranted because they are              “And when you don’t have the          we have to believe in               agencies on behalf of the Traffic
                                                                           resources, some of the drunk                                                Safety Bureau, said the Taos
                 the known population of drunken drivers.                                                          tough love.”                        County Sheriff’s Department
                    Drivers who have never been arrested but are at        drivers are going to slip through
                                                                           the net,” he says.                              ESPAÑOLA MUNICIPAL          hasn’t participated in Operation
                 risk for driving drunk are hard to identify, Huer-                                                                                    DWI since 1997 or 1998.
                 taz says.                                                   Denko and others say DWI                  JUDGE CHARLES MAESTAS
                                                                           enforcement is less vigorous in                                               There is no record that the
                    Thomas English, secretary of the state Depart-                                                                                     department applied last year for
                                                                           some communities because of
                 ment of Public Safety, is focusing on repeat              political considerations by local         Milford and Ness call it “the     grant money, Kelloff said.
ENGLISH:         offenders as part of his Road Predator Project.           officials.                              good ol’ boy system.”
State Public        State Police officers are given information about        “I don’t think it’s people actually     “You got to live with the guy     Before they crash
Safety           people in their areas who have been arrested for          condoning this,” Denko says.            next door,” Ness says. Adds
                 DWI more than three times.                                                                        Milford, “They don’t understand       It’s a Tuesday evening in March
secretary                                                                  “They want to be representative
                    English says officers don’t conduct stakeouts to                                               that eventually someone is going    and 10 officers with the
                                                                           of their communities.”
                 catch the repeat offenders but can watch for them           Others are less politic.              to get hurt.”                       Alamogordo Department of Public
                 while on patrol.                                            Española Municipal Judge                Milford says some communities     Safety are manning a sobriety
                    State Highway and Transportation Secretary             Charles Maestas says concerns           fear tough DWI enforcement          checkpoint on busy Indian Wells
                 Pete Rahn also says using substantial resources to        about la familia, or family, drive      could affect their economies by     Road.
                 try to prevent repeat drunken driving is warrant-         DWI enforcement in some                 reducing alcohol sales and            The officers nab only one
                 ed.                                                       communities, including his own.         tourism.                            suspected DWI offender in four
                    “The system is finally making contact with this          “We are our own worst enemy,”           Francis adds, “We have a lot of   hours but send a chilling message
                 problem (a drunken driver) and has an opportuni-          Maestas says. “We are family, but       sheriffs who won’t run traffic      to hundreds of drivers about the
                 ty to deal with it,” Rahn says.                           we have to believe in tough love.”      enforcement. They have to run for   threat of arrest should they    ➔
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                                      operates about two sobriety              of the 300 motorists who go           driving laws.
 DWI BRAKES                           checkpoints each month, with             through the checkpoint are in           Francis says the State Police is     Cost of DWI
                                      officer overtime funded by the           good moods. DWI activists hand        encouraging district commanders
drink and drive.                      state.                                   out key chains and note pads as       to get local residents involved by     The annual monetary cost of
  “It serves as a deterrent,” says       At the checkpoint on Indian           thank yous for the hassle.            forming chapters of Mothers            DWI in New Mexico
                                      Wells, each motorist is asked to           Some drivers know the trade-off     Against Drunk Driving.
Tony Bransford, the DWI                                                                                                                                     ■ More than $1.1 billion in
                                      provide proof of insurance,              is safer highways. “I don’t object      State Public Safety Secretary
program coordinator in Otero                                                                                                                                medical bills, lost wages, pub-
                                      driver’s license and vehicle             to it,” one woman says.               Thomas English, who oversees the
County.                                                                                                                                                     lic service expenses, property
                                      registration.                                                                  State Police, says DWI
  Otero is one of the state’s most       In addition to the DWI arrest,                                                                                     damage, quality of life losses
aggressive counties in fighting                                                Goals needed                          enforcement boils down to a            and other expenses.
                                      officers issue two dozen other                                                 simple question: “What is the
drunken driving. It also has one of   citations, mostly for no proof of          As for counties with high
the lowest rates for alcohol-                                                                                        public willing to pay for, and what    That breaks down to:
                                      insurance, driving without a valid       alcohol-related crash rates and       are they willing to put up with.”
related crashes.                      license and lack of registration.        low arrest rates, nothing will                                               ■   $3.2 million per death.
  It was one of eight counties in        One driver is cited for an open       change until residents demand it,       So far, he says, New Mexico
                                                                                                                     hasn’t made the sacrifices to          ■   $79,000 per person injured.
2000 that ranked in the top 10 for    container of alcohol. A woman            says Linda Atkinson, executive
arrests and the bottom 10 for                                                  director of the DWI Resource          vigorously address the problem.        ■ An estimated 12 percent of
                                      who says she is a police officer on
crashes.                              Holloman Air Force Base is taken         Center.                                 Terrance Schiavone, a state          New Mexicans’ auto insurance
  “The officers here take an          to jail when a check on her                “They have to know something        highway official and former            premiums.
assertive approach to DWI,” says      driver’s license shows an arrest         different can be done,” Atkinson      executive director of the National
Alamogordo police Lt. T.O.            warrant for passing worthless            says.                                 Commission Against Drunk               Source: A report prepared by
Livingston.                           checks.                                    A federal plan to combat DWI        Driving, says police, courts and       the Public Services Research
  “We’re not lax about it. These         At times, as many as 20 vehicles      says city, county and state           communities need to be re-             Institute for the National High-
guys know it’s part of their job.”    are backed up at the checkpoint.         officials need to establish goals     energized about fighting DWI.          way Traffic Safety Administra-
  Bransford adds, “We get them        Some motorists wait 10 minutes or        and officers need to be trained,        New Mexico, he says, doesn’t         tion. The report is based on
before they crash.”                   more to get through.                     supported and motivated to            have to be one of the worst states     1998 crash data.
  Livingston says his department         Despite the inconvenience, most       consistently enforce drunken          for drunken driving. ■




  life sentences                          by Leslie Linthicum

  DENNIS LIHTE, 51                                                                                   RUSSELL KIDMAN, 57
  Albuquerque                                                                                        MARY KIDMAN, 55
  Police chaplain                                                                                    Los Alamos
                                                                                                     Killed by a drunken driver
   “They know the chaplain is at
   their door and what that means.                                                                   “They were really in the prime
   I don’t even say, ‘I have bad                                                                     of their life.”
   news.’ I get right to it.”                                                                                    SONYA LEE, DAUGHTER OF
                                                                                                              RUSSELL AND MARY KIDMAN
    He has walked to the front doors of
  hundreds of homes in Albuquerque over
                                                                                                       It came as no surprise to people who
  the years, knocked lightly and delivered                                                                                                                                      COURTESY PHOTO
                                                                                                     knew them that Russell and Mary Kid-
  news that changes peoples’ lives forever.                                                                                                      ico.
                                                                                                     man spent their last day alive scram-
    Dennis Lihte, an ordained Baptist min-                                                                                                          The Kidmans were in their Toyota
                                                                                                     bling around Bandelier National Monu-
  ister and the director of a homeless shel-                                                         ment, then heading to the mountains for     Camry on Sept. 17, 1999, when they
  ter, is one of 30 volunteer Albuquerque                                                            some end-of-the-day nature watching.        rounded a curve on N.M. 4 and found a
  Police Department chaplains called to                                                                                                          car facing them. Their older daughter,
                                                                                                       Nor did it surprise anyone that they      Stacey Plassmann, and her 8-month-old
  the scene of violent death to help police
                                                                                                     had a daughter, a grandkid and some         son, Ryland, riding in the back seat,
  identify victims and then notify the fami-
                                                                                                     friends along.                              were barely injured in the head-on colli-
  ly.
    Too often, the news is related to drink-                                                           In their 25 years in Los Alamos, the      sion. Plassmann’s friends saw the crash
                                                                                                     Kidmans had devoured the scenery and        from their car.
  ing and driving.
                                                                                                     practiced the small good deeds that            Russell Kidman was crushed against
    Some of those accidents, even years
                                                                                                     build lifelong friendships.                 the steering wheel. Mary Kidman was
  later, stand out in Lihte’s memory.
    Like interrupting the carving of the                                                               Russell, a nuclear physicist, grew ros-   trapped in the seat next to him. It took
                                                                                                     es, collected lost softballs, biked to      nearly three hours for rescue crews to
  turkey on Thanksgiving Day to tell the
                                                                            ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL   work every day, sailed on Abiquiu Lake      arrive and cut them from the car. Rus-
  family why their son was late to dinner.
                                                                                                     and canned tomatoes. He had recently        sell died in the helicopter on the way to
    Like finding the 13-year-old girl in the
                                                                                                     figured out how to predict the behavior     the hospital. Mary, her legs and arms
  back seat of the crumpled car, a beer can     Lihte than helping police identify the
                                                                                                     of subatomic particles, a breakthrough      shattered, died six weeks later.
  smashed into her mouth by the force of        dead.
                                                                                                     in developing techniques to dispose of         “There couldn’t have been a more vio-
  an accident, and heading out into the           “When you see the body, it doesn’t real-                                                       lent way to kill them,” their younger
                                                                                                     nuclear weapons.
  night to try to find her mother or father.    ly mean anything until you match it with                                                         daughter, Sonya Lee, says. “You could
                                                the people who loved that person,” says                Mary, a lifelong student, was presi-
    Like telling the mother that her 21-                                                                                                         have taken a sledgehammer, and it
                                                                                                     dent of the League of Women Voters
  year-old son had driven off an embank-        Lihte.                                                                                           wouldn’t have been more violent.”
                                                                                                     and the Civitans, a fan of Frank Lloyd
  ment drunk and then learning that anoth-         “Then the pain you weren’t feeling at                                                            The driver of the car that hit them
                                                                                                     Wright’s designs, a doting grandparent
  er police chaplain had delivered similar      the scene becomes pronounced. Seeing                                                             had been convicted of DWI five times
                                                                                                     and a quiet influence on friends and
  news only a year earlier about the            the devastation in the eyes of these moth-           neighbors who sought her advice. At 51,     and did not have a valid driver’s
  woman’s other son.                            ers and fathers, it sticks in your mind.             she had worn a cap and gown and grad-       license. He is now off the roads, in
    Confronting the living is harder for        It’s the hardest part of the job.”                   uated from the University of New Mex-       prison and serving a 22-year sentence.
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14 SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002
   “Alcohol is the sacred cow of New Mexico. We will have a liquor licensee on every corner, be damned if you want a safe neighborhood. ”
                                                  LINDA ATKINSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DWI RESOURCE CENTER




By Thomas J. Cole
                     Liquor Sellers Not Held Accountable                    director of the DWI Resource          For those who paid a fine, the     guy’s blotto.”
Journal Investigative Reporter                                              Center. “Alcohol is the sacred      average was $600. Only 42 cita-        English says he has ordered
                                                                            cow of New Mexico.                  tions resulted in license suspen-    the Special Investigations Divi-
  More than 210,000 drivers
                                                                              “We will have a liquor            sions.                               sion to start tracking down
were arrested for DWI in New
                                                                            licensee on every corner, be          The state in 1995 began            where drivers got drunk before
Mexico during the decade that
                                                                            damned if you want a safe           requiring that alcohol servers       causing accidents.
ended on the last day of the
                                                                            neighborhood,” she says. “Our       be trained in compliance with
year 2000.                                                                                                      liquor laws and in 1999 began          The division can then use the
                                                                            wild west mentality has unfor-
  During the same period, there                                             tunately stayed.”                   issuing citations to individual      information to target liquor sell-
were 46,203 alcohol-related                                                   Thomas English, a former fed-     servers.                             ers for investigation, English
crashes resulting in 2,267 peo-        ATKINSON:       CLEMENS:             eral prosecutor who became            It is impossible to tell from      says.
ple killed, and thousands more         Executive       Restaurant,          public safety secretary last        the state Alcohol and Gaming           Maj. Fernando Gallegos, head
maimed.                                director of     hotel owner          year, says he is trying to crack    Division database how many           of the Special Investigations
  But there were only 238 cita-        the DWI         says most            down on bars and restaurants        server citations have been           Division, says the division has
tions issued against liquor            Resource        sellers do a         that serve intoxicated people.      issued for serving intoxicated       21 agents to enforce alcohol
licensees for serving intoxicat-       Center          good job in            “The efforts to this date         people.                              laws statewide.
ed people.                                             not serving          haven’t met up to that problem,”      Bert Clemens, a hotel and            Cases against licensees for
  More than 100 of those result-                                            English says.                       restaurant owner in Eagle Nest       serving intoxicated people are
                                                       drunks
ed in no punishment for the sell-                                             Repeat DWI offenders were         and a former president of an         hard to prove, Gallegos says.
ers.                                  tion.                                 asked in a study for the Nation-    association that represents bars
  Santa Fe Police Chief John                                                                                                                           Someone drinking in a bar or
                                        “That’s the next place we           al Highway Traffic Safety           and restaurants, says 99 percent     restaurant can’t be forced to
Denko calls the number of sell-                                             Administration where they typi-     of sellers do a good job in not
                                      need to go” in the DWI fight,                                                                                  take a blood-alcohol test unless
er citations “astoundingly low.”                                            cally consumed alcohol.             serving intoxicated people.
                                      says Nadine Milford, state                                                                                     he gets into a vehicle, he says.
  “It’s an indictment of compla-      chairwoman of Mothers Against           Bars topped the list, followed      “It’s really hard to say when a
cency,” says Steven Flint, a                                                by the offenders’ homes, homes      guy is visibly intoxicated,”           Agents have begun bringing
                                      Drunk Driving.                                                                                                 cases against people who buy
board member of the nonprofit                                               of friends and relatives, and       Clemens says. “It can be impos-
DWI Resource Center in Albu-            The Special Investigations                                              sible.”                              drinks for intoxicated friends
                                                                            restaurants.
querque and a former chief of         Division of the state Depart-                                                                                  and family members after they
                                                                              To deny that DWI offenders          It is also hard for sellers to
the state Traffic Safety Bureau.      ment of Public Safety has pri-                                            always know how much some-           have been denied service in
                                                                            get drunk in bars, “You have to
  Tougher enforcement of New          mary responsibility for enforc-       be a liar,” Denko says.             one has had to drink because         bars and restaurants, Gallegos
Mexico’s law against serving          ing liquor laws.                                                          people bar hop and drink in          says.
                                                                              Of the 238 citations issued for
intoxicated people would save           But the state has a long histo-     serving intoxicated people from     vehicles, he says.                     The Special Investigations
about 20 lives a year on the          ry of underfunding the division.      1991 through 2000, at least 102       “You get thrown out of Joe’s       Division recently received
highways, according to a study          “The money of the alcohol           were dismissed, resulted in no      place so you go to Mabel’s           grant money from the state
produced for the National High-       industry speaks loud and clear,”      recorded penalty or were set-       place,” Clemens says. “Then it       Traffic Safety Bureau to step
way Traffic Safety Administra-        says Linda Atkinson, executive        tled with a warning.                takes a drink to figure out this     up enforcement.




  life sentences                          by Leslie Linthicum

  MARY MARGARET                        with her. If friends, relatives or
                                       co-workers needed help with
                                       anything, she was always the
  SOSA, 26                             first to lend a hand.
  Albuquerque                            “That girl could never say no
                                       to nobody,” says Justo Sanchez,
  Killed by a drunken driver           who married Sosa’s mother
                                       when Mary Margaret was 6 and
  “She worked, worked,                 raised her as his daughter.
                                         Sosa juggled three jobs — at
  worked. That little girl             McDonald’s, at a day-care cen-
                                       ter and at a laundry — while she
  worked.”                             completed Manzano High
            TERESITA SANCHEZ,          School.
                                         By the time she was 26, Sosa
                SOSA’S MOTHER
                                       had two years under her belt as
                                       a 911 dispatcher. She took the                                                                                                   COURTESY PHOTOS
    Her parents come up blank          job because she found the work       Communications Center at            THE AFTERMATH: Mary Margaret Sosa’s car was hit broadside by
  when they try to remember            exciting and wanted to make a        Paseo del Norte and Eubank,         a drunken driver who ran a red light.
  their eldest daughter relaxing in    difference in the lives of people    grab something to eat at a con-
  an idle moment.                                                           venience store, then head back
                                       in distress.
    Mary Margaret Sosa, nick-                                               to work.                              Emergency dispatchers are           A 21-year-old, who later plead-
                                         “She felt it was her responsi-
  named “Sister Mary Margaret”                                                                                  the first to know of an accident.   ed guilty to killing Sosa, was
                                       bility,” her mother, Teresita          On Aug. 26, 1998, Sosa walked
  by co-workers for her helpful-                                                                                One of the dispatchers drove to     coming from a party at a bar.
                                       Sanchez, says, “to take care of      out of the center, looked back at
  ness and compassion, was                                                                                      the scene of a high-speed crash     He had a blood-alcohol level of
                                       people.”                             her colleagues and said, “Any-
  always on the go. She read                                                                                    that had been reported at           twice the legal limit, ran a red
  romance novels, loved movies           Sosa worked the overnight          body want anything? See you in
                                                                                                                Eubank and Academy and found        light and hit Sosa’s car broad-
  and always had a crochet pro-        shift and took her lunch break at    a little bit.” When she wasn’t
                                                                                                                Sosa’s red Neon smashed almost      side. The impact burst Sosa’s
  ject in the big bag she carried      2 every morning. She would dri-      back within 30 minutes, they
                                                                                                                beyond recognition.                 heart.
                                       ve from the Bernalillo County        worried.
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       Many Drunks
       Get Off Easy
 WEAK LINKS IN JUSTICE SYSTEM ALLOW PRIOR
  DWI CONVICTIONS TO COUNT FOR NOTHING
   AS SUSPECTS SKATE WITH NO JAIL TIME
By Thomas J. Cole
Journal Investigative Reporter
     dward N. Sena got a sweet


E    deal when he was arrested for
     drunken driving in March
     1999.
  With four prior DWI convic-
tions, Sena could have been con-
victed of felony drunken driving
and sent to prison for 11⁄2 years.
  But he didn’t spend a day in jail
or pay a dime in fines.
  The Las Vegas, N.M., man
pleaded guilty to a first-offense
DWI under a plea
deal with the local
District
Attorney’s Office.
  It wasn’t his
first good deal                                                                           ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
after getting                         SEEN BOTH SIDES: Tony Miers says he pleaded guilty several times
picked up for                         to being a first-time DWI offender. He is now sober and an anti-DWI
driving while                         advocate.
intoxicated. All
four of his prior     SENA: With      sentences, and judges rarely         also created a new crime of
convictions were four priors,
                                      imposed mandatory jail sentences     aggravated DWI for those who
for first-offense     was convict-    for noncompliance.                   had a blood-alcohol content of
DWI, mocking          ed for first-     Meanwhile, more than half the      .16 or more, refused to take a
New Mexico’s          offense DWI     dismissals and acquittals were       blood-alcohol test or caused bod-
policy of tougher                     caused by officers failing to        ily injury.
penalties for repeat offenders.       appear at trial and other
  Sena’s case isn’t unusual.                                                 Misdemeanor DWI charges
                                      prosecution breakdowns.              now range from nonaggravated
  A Journal analysis of cases           In short, the criminal justice
statewide shows about 30 percent                                           first-time drunken driving with
                                      system isn’t sending a message       no mandatory jail time to an
of all drivers charged with DWI       that DWI offenders will be
end up being convicted of or                                               aggravated DWI third offense
                                      subjected to swift and sure
pleading guilty to reduced            punishment. That message is          with 90 days mandatory.
charges.                              critical to deterring drunken          A driver convicted of four or
  The analysis of 300 randomly        driving, experts say.                more DWI offenses can be
selected cases found about 45           “We’ve got to get to the DAs and   charged with a felony carrying
percent of the drivers were           judges. They’re dropping the ball    a mandatory six months and a
convicted of the maximum charge       way too frequently,” says state      maximum of 11⁄2 years.
allowed by law.                       Highway and Transportation             In the Journal’s review of
  The remainder of the cases          Secretary Pete Rahn, who             DWI cases statewide, there
were still pending or had been        oversees the Traffic Safety          were at least 32 cases where
dismissed. Some were transferred      Bureau.                              first-time offenders could have
to federal court.                                                          been convicted of aggravated
  The Journal’s analysis also         Pleading out                         DWI but instead were found
found that about half of those          The state increased penalties      guilty of nonaggravated. That
convicted didn’t comply with their    for drunken driving in 1994. It      meant they avoided             ➔
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16 SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002
                                                                         ‘No proof of priors’                   conviction.                              tion notices from courts. Law
                                     OFF EASY                                                                     The records should be avail-           enforcement can access an
                                                                           Sena was last arrested for                                                    “index” of convictions, so prose-
                                                                         DWI in March 1999 by a State           able either from the state Motor
                                    mandatory jail time.                                                        Vehicle Division or the court            cutors should know what
                                                                         Police officer who stopped his                                                  records they will receive.
                                      At least 57 repeat drunken         weaving pickup in Las Vegas.           where the defendant was con-
                                    drivers avoided jail or had their                                           victed.                                    MVD provided records of all
                                                                           The office of District Attor-                                                 Sena’s convictions in response
                                    time reduced by pleading guilty      ney Matthew Sandoval prose-              Sena’s case file shows the
                                    to lesser offenses.                                                                                                  to an inquiry by the Journal.
                                                                         cuted the case in Magistrate           DA’s Office asked MVD for
                                      The Sena case was one of at        Court. It was his third prosecu-       records of his convictions but             Sandoval says he believes the
                                    least five where the driver was      tion by the local District Attor-      received only a record of his            office made a verbal request of
                                    convicted of a misdemeanor           ney’s Office — although the                                                     Magistrate Court for records
                                                                                                                first conviction in 1980. That
                                    DWI when his prior drunken           first two preceded Sandoval.                                                    but was told they were unavail-
                                                                                                                conviction couldn’t be used
                                    driving convictions made him                                                                                         able. He says no request was
                                                                           Sena was allowed to plead            because it didn’t show Sena had
                                    eligible for a felony.                                                                                               made of the Santa Fe court and
                                                                         guilty to nonaggravated first-         signed a waiver of counsel, San-
                                      “This plea-bargain stuff is                                                                                        that was a mistake.
                                                                         offense DWI. He was sentenced          doval says.
                                    way out of hand,” says Richard       to 90 days unsupervised proba-                                                    But the Journal recently
                                                                                                                  Sena’s other convictions were          obtained Sena’s case files in the
                                    Ness, executive director of the      tion and fined $200. The fine          in Santa Fe Municipal Court in           Las Vegas and Santa Fe courts.
                                    New Mexico Sheriffs and Police       was suspended.                         1990 and in Magistrate Court in
                                    Association and a former Tor-          “No proof of priors available                                                   Sandoval says his office now
                                                                                                                Las Vegas in 1993 and 1994.
                                    rance County sheriff.                for felony!” an assistant district                                              works harder to find records of
                                      Santa Fe Police Chief John         attorney wrote in the prosecu-           The case file at the DA’s              prior convictions, checking
                                    Denko, a former State Police         tor’s file.                            Office doesn’t show any effort           back with MVD when records
                                    chief and president of the New         It’s a refrain often heard from      to obtain records of those con-          are missing and getting records
                                    Mexico Municipal Chiefs of           prosecution offices. But it’s          victions from the courts after           directly from courts when nec-
                                    Police Association, says officers    really not that difficult to find      MVD’s response.                          essary.
                                    “feel slapped in the face some-      conviction records.                      And prosecutors should have              “We’re far better than we
                                    times” by the court system.            Prosecutors must show proof          known MVD had additional                 were in 1999,” he says.
                                      “It’s a morale killer,” Denko      of a driver’s prior DWI convic-        records, which the agency com-             Sena died this year of an alco-
                                    says.                                tions to obtain a repeat-offender      piles when it receives convic-           hol-related disease. He was 55. ➔




 life sentences                         by Leslie Linthicum

 TIMOTHY GLASS, 50                                                                                            TONY MIERS, 38                           out of Rio Grande High School.
                                                                                                                                                          Miers had DWI charges
 Paradise Hills                                                                                               Albuquerque                              dropped for a variety of reasons
 DWI accident victim                                                                                                                                   over the years: The police offi-
                                                                                                              Former drunken driver                    cer didn’t show up, the Breatha-
                                                                                                                                                       lyzer had not been calibrated
 “I figured if I didn’t drink and drive,                                                                       “I said, ‘God, I want                   recently, the arresting officer
                                                                                                                                                       had not filled out his paperwork
 I would be safe. I could get out                                                                              something out of life and               properly.
 of the way.”                                                                                                                                             He also used a common ploy to
                                                                                                               this isn’t it.’ ’’                      avoid serious jail time: He
                                                                                                                                                       pleaded guilty to DWI as a first
    When he tells his story at victim impact pan-                                                               Tony Miers doesn’t know how            offense several times and was
 els, Tim Glass is as harsh and unforgiving as the                                                            many times he was stopped by             sentenced to alcohol treatment
 drunken driving crash that changed his life.                                                                 police for drunken driving. He           programs or counseling.
    “I hope to God,” Glass tells convicted drunken                                                            thinks it was more than 20.                 Miers gave little thought to
 drivers, “that I haunt you for the rest of your                                                                He certainly couldn’t calculate        driving with a 12-pack of Bud-
 life.”                                                                                                       the number of times he drove             weiser or bottle of Black Velvet
    Glass was an athlete before a pickup truck                                                                drunk and didn’t get caught.             on the floorboard between his
 going 60 mph slammed into the back of his                                                                      “It’s uncountable,” says Miers.        feet, or to getting caught.
 smaller truck as he was stopped at a red light on                                                            “I drank and drank.”                        “I figured that was just part of
 San Mateo at Candelaria. The crash broke his                                                                   He started drinking at age 13          growing up,” Miers says. “This
 hip, jammed two vertebrae into his head and                                                                  (unless you count the day when           is just the way life goes. Even if
 sheared off a portion of his brain. Three years                                                              he was 3 and someone gave him            I got caught, what’s going to
 after the crash, Glass is two inches shorter,                                                                a couple of cans of Coors) and           happen? I’m going to have to go
 walks with a limp and is still in pain.                                                                      was drinking regularly by the            to an AA meeting?”
    Glass was a computer scientist and a writer                                                               time he was 16 and had dropped              It took a domestic violence
 before the crash pushed his head into the roof of                                                                                                     charge four years ago to get
 his pickup. He had to learn to walk, talk, read                                                                                                       Miers’ attention. He sobered up,
 and write again. He lost his job and sold his                                                                                                         accepted Jesus Christ into his
 house to pay medical bills. Today, he takes col-                                                                                                      life and opened his own small
 lege courses in Web site design in hopes that he                                    ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
                                                                                                                                                       business, an automotive paint
 can go back to work and feel a little bit closer to                                                                                                   and body shop in the North Val-
 the man he used to be.                                taneously.
                                                         That means, Glass points out bitterly, that                                                   ley.
    The man who hit Glass, 51-year-old Lorenzo                                                                                                            Miers has had three run-ins
 Mojica of Albuquerque, walked across the street       Mojica is really receiving no punishment for
                                                       upending his life and the lives of his wife and                                                 with drunken driving and the
 to get a cup of coffee immediately after the                                                                                                          law in the past year, but these
 crash, according to police. He told a judge he        daughter.
                                                         “Today, I am fighting for my life,” says Glass.                                               are much different from his past
 was drinking because he had buried his girl-                                                                                                          experiences. Each time he has
 friend that day. Mojica got a three-year prison       “It’s an ongoing nightmare. There is the physical
                                                       pain and the emotional pain and the constant                                                    seen a driver drinking, he has
 sentence for the crash that injured Glass. He
                                                       fight to be someone again. Tim Glass is dead. He                                                called 911 on his cell phone and
 was also sentenced to six years for raping his
                                                       died that night on San Mateo. And he’s a tough                                                  kept track of the driver until
 deceased girlfriend’s 12-year-old daughter.
                                                       act to follow.”                                                                                 police arrived.
    The judge allowed the sentences to run simul-                                                                             ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
                       MK
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SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002                                                                                                                                                                     17
                                                                                                                 “Everything can fall down to          job of the woman killed by the
OFF EASY                                                                                                         that level and there are no           drunk?” asks highway Secretary
                                                                                                                 mandatory penalties.”                 Rahn, whose wife was injured
First-offense trap door                                                                                                                                when she was hit by a drunken
                                                                                                                 System overwhelmed                    driver last year.
   There have been other cases                                                                                                                            Terry Huertaz, state execu-
                                                                                                                   There are, of course, reasons
where prosecutors said they                                                                                                                            tive director of Mothers Against
                                                                                                                 other than records problems for
were forced to allow drunken                                                                                                                           Drunk Driving, says the group
                                                                                                                 prosecutors to enter into plea
drivers to plead to lesser                                                                                                                             doesn’t object to plea bargains
                                                                                                                 bargains with drivers accused
charges because records of pre-                                                                                                                        as long as felonies aren’t
                                                                                                                 of DWI.
vious convictions couldn’t be                                                                                                                          reduced to misdemeanors and
                                                                                                                   A DA’s office might be con-         as long as the plea-bargain cas-
located.                                                                                                         cerned about the legality of the
   But activists in the fight                                                                                                                          es don’t involve injury acci-
                                                                                                                 traffic stop that led to an arrest    dents.
against DWI say prosecutors                                                                                      or could decide that having a
sometimes just don’t look hard                                                                                                                            “I think it is just they (prose-
                                                                                                                 conviction in hand is better than     cutors) are overwhelmed,”
enough, as in the Sena case.                                                                                     risking a trial.                      Huertaz says.
   “We can find them,” says                                                                                        Warren Sigal, an assistant dis-        District Attorney Kari Bran-
Nadine Milford, state chair-                                                                                     trict attorney in Albuquerque,        denburg in Albuquerque, whose
                                      DAs.”                              former chief of the state Traffic
woman of Mothers Against                                                                                         says DWI offenders sometimes          office handles more than 6,000
                                                                         Safety Bureau, says he’s con-
Drunk Driving.                          English says he wants prose-                                             are permitted to plead guilty to      DWI cases a year, says it’s not
                                                                         cerned about serious charges
   Public Safety Secretary            cutors to stop bargaining down                                             lesser charges because some           only the prosecution, but the
                                                                         being bargained down to nonag-
Thomas English, who oversees          charges against repeat DWI                                                 judges don’t like having to           entire criminal justice system
                                                                         gravated first-offense DWI.
the State Police, says officers       offenders in cases where State                                             impose mandatory jail time for        that is overwhelmed.
now obtain court records of pri-      Police provide the records. In       The crime of nonaggravated            more serious DWI offenses.               The system is functioning rea-
or convictions after arresting        other words, they won’t have       first-offense DWI is the only             Those judges are concerned          sonably well but not “as well as
repeat DWI offenders.                 the “missing records” excuse.      drunken driving charge that             how jail time could affect such       it should be to protect the citi-
                                                                         doesn’t carry mandatory jail            things as a defendant’s employ-       zens it represents,” Branden-
   “We don’t accept, ‘We can’t          Steven Flint, a board member
                                                                         time.                                   ment and family, Sigal says.          burg says. “We could do a lot
find it,’ ’’ he says. “We will find   of the nonprofit DWI Resource
it. We are not waiting for the        Center in Albuquerque and a           “It’s a trap door,” Flint says.        “What about the family, the         more with resources.”            ➔



 life sentences                          by Leslie Linthicum

   DOUGLAS BINDER,               “ranting and raving
                                 maniac” on the subject
                                                            them up and sends them
                                                            back to the streets.             MICHELLE                                                       pickup, running a red
                                                                                                                                                            light, hit her. She
                                 of drunken driving. His      “You feel like it’s a                                                                         bounced onto the pickup’s
   44                            experience patching up     revolving door,” Binder          JIMENEZ, 34                                                    hood and rolled off. The
   Albuquerque                   drunken drivers and        says. “And it is.”
                                                                                             Belen                                                          driver kept on going.
                                 their victims has taught     When a trauma patient
   Trauma center doctor                                                                                                                                       Jimenez died instantly.
                                 him that New Mexico’s      arrives, Binder gets a           Killed by a drunken driver                                     The pickup driver, Daniel
                                 DWI problem is horren-     thumbnail sketch of
                                                                                                                                                            F. Gonzales, turned onto a
   “Alcohol is the               dous.                      where the accident hap-
                                   “It’s not getting bet-   pened, who hit whom              “This wasn’t going                                             ditchbank. Witnesses
   reason we’re in                                                                                                                                          found him there throwing
                                 ter. Cars are getting      and what vehicle the
                                 safer, and we’re getting   victim was in. That              to happen to us. This                                          beer cans out of his truck.
   business.”                    more sophisticated at      information has                                                                                   As part of a plea agree-
                                 treating people,” Binder   changed the way the
                                                                                             was something that                                             ment that cut his prison
     It took a couple of
   years pulling night           says. “The problem is      doctor lives his life.           was in the                                    COURTESY PHOTO
                                                                                                                                                            sentence to 14 years,
   shifts in the University      tremendously underrat-       He and his wife stay                                         decided it was time for          Gonzales, a 38-year-old
   of New Mexico Hospital        ed. It’s awful. It’s       off two-lane roads after         newspapers                    her life to take on a new        with seven DWI convic-
   trauma center and the         absolutely awful.”         dark. They stay home                                           dimension. She enrolled          tions, agreed to detail his
   birth of his son to send        And Binder sees          more often. And they             happening to other            in college at the Universi-      activities on the day
   Douglas Binder shop-          things others do not:      put their faith in a big,                                      ty of New Mexico’s               Jimenez died.
   ping for a new car. He        Drunks who have            heavy truck.                     people.”                      Valencia County branch             He had gotten off work
   looked for the biggest,       crashed their cars and       “I get to see this first-          CINDY VALENZUELA,         and encouraged her moth-         in Albuquerque at 7 a.m.
   heaviest SUV he could         gotten to the hospital     hand in a way that other                 STEPMOTHER OF         er to do the same.               and started drinking beer
   find — something that         without being detected     people don’t. It’s not an             MICHELLE JIMENEZ           Jimenez was serious            with friends, he said in a
   might stand up well in a      by police. Under state     abstract concept to me,”                                       about becoming a doctor.         statement. They bought a
   contest with a drunken        law, Binder cannot         says Binder. “I’m terri-                                       She became a certified           case of beer in Albu-
   driver.                       report them. He patches    bly nervous.”                      Michelle Jimenez was a      emergency medical tech-          querque, played basket-
     As clinical director of                                                                 late bloomer, but she was     nician and signed on to          ball, watched TV and
   the emergency room                                                                        proving that the wait was     shadow a local doctor.           drank some more, he
   that treats the most                                                                      worth it.                     Jimenez graduated with           said. Then he got in his
   severe injuries from                                                                        In 1998, Jimenez was        honors in May 1998.              truck to drive home.
   across the state, Binder                                                                  34, a recent college grad-      “She just wanted to
                                                                                             uate with big dreams of       learn everything there             He did not remember
   sees firsthand how often
                                                                                             going to medical school,      was to learn,” her step-         hitting Jimenez.
   driving and alcohol mix
   with tragic conse-                                                                        then volunteering as a        mother, Cindy Valen-               “I was so exhausted
   quences.                                                                                  physician in Latin Ameri-     zuela, said. “She turned         from working and drink-
     Five years at Univer-                                                                   ca.                           her life around. She was         ing beer,” Gonzales
   sity of New Mexico Hos-                                                                     She had dropped out of      going to be someone and          wrote. “I could hardly
   pital and two years                                                                       high school at 15 and con-    make a difference.”              stay awake. Next thing I
   before that as a doctor                                                                   centrated on having             Two weeks later,               know, I heard this noise.
   in Gallup have turned                                                                     babies and raising chil-      Jimenez was crossing the         I’m thinking, and saying
   the native New Yorker                                                                     dren. She had four boys,      street in the crosswalk in       to myself, ‘Oh, no. What
   into a self-described                                                                     the youngest still in ele-    downtown Los Lunas               have I done? Something
                                                                    ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL   mentary school, when she      about 2:30 p.m. when a           isn’t right.’ ’’
                                                                                                                                                                        MK
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18 SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002

                                                                        license, receiving stolen proper-      “We’ll work with them,” the          passed by the Legislature.
OFF EASY                            “We’d be                            ty, careless driving, resisting      judge says. “We’re not here to           Dimas, one of three judges in
                                    sending all                         arrest and negligent use of a        throw them in jail every time          Magistrate Court in Santa Fe,
  She adds, “To some degree,                                            firearm.                             they look the wrong way.”              says the court has just one per-
we’re giving lip service” to        these guys to                         State law sets mandatory jail
                                                                                                             Social work                            son monitoring DWI offenders
being tough on drunken driving.                                         terms ranging from two days to                                              for compliance.
  Rahn says those in the crimi-
                                    jail (for                           60 days for drivers convicted of       Linda Atkinson, executive              He says he has started to give
                                                                        misdemeanor DWIs who don’t           director of the DWI Resource           lengthier probation periods to
nal justice system will continue    noncom-                             comply with their sentences.         Center, says courts don’t recog-       drunken drivers to avoid the
to deflect blame until the public
                                                                          For a second-offense DWI,          nize that their job is to apply
demands change in how it deals      pliance). The                       which Rodriguez had been con-        the laws.
                                                                                                                                                    court running out of time
with DWI offenders.                                                                                                                                 before it can obtain compliance.
                                                                        victed of, the mandatory time is
  “When the system believes         county would be yelling             seven days.
                                                                                                               “They think their role is social       Rodriguez, now 27, eventually
that something has to be done, it                                                                            worker,” she says.                     complied with the judge’s order
                                    at us because they have to            But Dimas imposed no time,           Flint adds:
can respond,” he says, pointing                                         despite having Rodriguez                                                    for alcohol treatment. He
to the progress the state made                                                                                 “They’re doing social work           recently said he had stopped
against drunken driving after
                                    pay for it.”                        arrested twice on bench war-         with the wrong people. The ones        drinking.
                                                                        rants for noncompliance and
the much-publicized crash on             MAGISTRATE BILL DIMAS                                               that most need the help (victims         “I’m not an alcoholic,” he said.
                                                                        brought back before the court.
Christmas Eve 1992 that killed                                                                               of DWI) are invisible to the
                                                                          Dimas also could have
Milford’s daughter and three          It was his second arrest for      revoked the remainder of             courts. Our judicial system            Case dismissed
granddaughters.                     drunken driving in three            Rodriguez’s probation and put        views DWI as a victimless                The accident report says this
                                    months, and Rodriguez was con-      him in jail. He didn’t.              crime and treats it according-         is what happened:
Failure to comply                                                         The Rodriguez case isn’t           ly.”                                     About 10 on the night of May
                                    victed a month later of a second-
  Sheriff’s                         offense DWI and other crimes.       unusual.                               Senate Judiciary Chairman            21, 1997, Jerome Brown of Rio
Deputy Shawn                          Magistrate Bill Dimas sent          The Journal review of DWI          Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, says         Rancho got off Interstate 40
Beck said he                        him to jail for 15 days, ordered    cases found at least 114 of the      he has been telling fellow law-        near Downtown Albuquerque
spotted Anthony                     a year of probation and fined       226 drivers convicted didn’t         makers and the governor for            but didn’t stop for a red light as
G. Rodriguez                        him more than $1,000.               comply with their sentences          years that courts need more            he headed onto Fourth Street.
driving reckless-                   Rodriguez also was ordered to       and only a handful received jail     help in monitoring compliance            Brown hit a cruiser driven by
ly just south of                    get alcohol treatment, perform      time.                                of those they sentence.                a Bernalillo County sheriff’s
Santa Fe on May                     48 hours of community service         “We’d be sending all these           Most courts do the best they         sergeant. The sergeant appar-
16, 1999.                           and attend DWI school.              guys to jail” for noncompliance,     can with the money they have,          ently wasn’t hurt, but the cruis-
  Rodriguez then                      But Rodriguez failed to com-      Dimas says. “The county would        and jail crowding is a legitimate      er was heavily damaged.
led Beck on a       RODRIGUEZ:      plete alcohol treatment and         be yelling at us because they        concern, Sanchez says.                   Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Lujan,
chase at speeds     No jail time    community service.                  have to pay for it.”                   “There is so much pressure on        who was called in to investigate,
of up to 117 mph    imposed for       He also violated his probation      He says he often extends com-      the system,” he says.                  arrested Brown for DWI. It was
on busy N.M. 14,    disobeying      when he was arrested again in       pliance time for DWI offenders         He says he opposes mandato-          Brown’s second arrest for
according to the                    February 2000 for drunken dri-      but keeps newly set deadlines        ry sentencing but expects              drunken driving in less than
                    court                                                                                                                                                           ➔
deputy.                             ving, driving with a revoked        within their probation periods.      judges to follow such laws if          two years.




  life sentences                        by Leslie Linthicum

  PHIL GRIEGO, 53                He would start with
                               beer. After six or seven,
                                                            Interstate 25 when he
                                                            was stopped and arrest-
  San Jose                     he would switch to           ed.
                               Crown Royal and Diet           Griego isn’t sure what
  Convicted twice of DWI       Coke and drink 10 or         happened over the next
                               more of those. At 6 or 7     48 hours, but it has led to
  “There were times            p.m., he would drive the     a new life.
                               45 miles back to San Jose      He remembers his
  when I’d black out,          — drunk, every time. “I’d    daughter bailing him out
  and I’d wake up at           have a couple more           of jail and driving him
                               drinks at home, and I’d      home in stony silence.
  home and say,                get up in the middle of      When Griego got home,
                               the night and have anoth-    he asked his wife, Janey,
  ‘Geez, how did I             er one.”                     “What am I gonna do
                                                            now?”
  get here?’ ’’                  Everybody knew that
                                                              “You’re just going to
                               Griego, a successful
                               businessman and a long-      have to deal with it,” she
    Phil Griego’s days went    time state senator, was      said.
  like this: Up in the morn-   an alcoholic. Except him.      The next day his
  ing, bleary-eyed and           After his truck slipped    daughter sent over a                                                                               ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
                               into an acequia early one    friend, a recovering alco-
  regretful. An argument                                                                  querque and raised his         hol on his breath.            every afternoon and lov-
                               February morning in          holic and a born-again
  with his wife and a 45-                                                                 hand when the preacher                                       ing it.
                               2000, Griego was             Christian.                                                     “That barking dog is
  mile drive from his home                                                                asked if anyone was                                            “To come home in the
                               charged with DWI. He           Something clicked dur-                                     always going to be
  in San Jose into Santa Fe.                                                              ready to be saved.                                           evening and talk to my
                               fought the charge, saying    ing their meeting, and                                       there,” Griego says. But
  An hour or two behind                                                                                                                                wife, not argue. To ride
                               someone else was dri-        Griego finally admitted         It has been a year since     he attends Alcoholics
  the desk at the title com-                                                                                                                           my horse in the moun-
                               ving. He was convicted       he was not in control of      Griego accepted the DWI        Anonymous meetings
  pany he owns, then lunch                                                                                                                             tains and remember it.
                               and served no time in        his drinking. Instead of      charge, spent three days       and has not had a drink
  at 11 a.m. at one of his     jail.                                                      in jail and agreed to                                        Today is a whole new
                                                            going to the bar that day,                                   since his arrest. He has
  favorite bars — the Bull                                  he went home. The next        installation in his truck      lost 54 pounds, his dia-      world. My life is too good
                                 And he continued to
  Ring, the Palace Bar or      drink. A year later,         day he drove to Good Fri-     of a device that locks the     betes is under control,       right now.”
  Tiny’s.                      Griego was swerving on       day services in Albu-         ignition if it detects alco-   and he is in the office
                        MK
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SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002                                                                                                                                                                  19

                                      Prosecutors also failed to
OFF EASY                            bring some cases to trials within

  He denied the charge and was
                                    the required six months and
                                    failed to prosecute or dropped
                                    other cases.
                                                                         life sentences                           by Leslie Linthicum
never convicted.
  When the case went to trial in
January 1998, Lujan didn’t
                                      Of the 33 cases dismissed
                                    because of the prosecution, 24
                                                                         CHERYL                       then go on to medical
                                                                                                      school to become an
                                                                                                                                                               Narvaiz suffered a
                                                                                                                                                               broken neck. Rodgers
                                                                                                      orthopedic surgeon.                                      was killed.
appear.
  “Possibly in training,” wrote
                                    were in state Metropolitan
                                    Court for Bernalillo County. The     RODGERS, 16                    Rodgers served up
                                                                                                                                                                 The hardest thing
then-Metropolitan Judge Neil        county handles far more DWI          Moriarty                     all that strong will
                                    cases than any other county and                                   and drive with a                                         Toni Carrejo had to
Candelaria, who was forced to                                            Killed by a                                                                           do after rushing into
dismiss the charge.                 also has one of the worst convic-                                 tremendous grin. It
  Lujan said recently he hates to   tion rates.                          drunken driver               was her trademark —                                      Albuquerque and say-
                                                                                                      along with an infatua-                                   ing goodbye to her
lose any case, especially one         Brandenburg says her office                                                                                              youngest daughter at
where an officer was hit.           struggles daily with the issue of    “I never worried             tion with Mickey
                                                                                                                                                               the hospital was to
  He said he couldn’t recall why    how it can work better with                                       Mouse, her love of
                                                                                                                                                               tell her older girls
he wasn’t available for the trial   judges and police to prevent         about her.”                  red roses and her ded-
                                                                                                                                                               their little sister was
but said officers miss court        cases from being dismissed.                                       ication to aerobics
                                                                               TONI CARREJO,                                                                   dead.
dates for a variety of reasons.       But the bigger issue is alcohol                                 classes and volleyball.
They may be off work, in train-     abuse, and the criminal justice
                                                                           CHERYL RODGERS’
                                                                                                        “She was famous                                          A year later, Car-
ing, or before another judge, he    system can’t be expected to                            MOM        for that big smile,”                                     rejo agreed to meet
said.                               solve that problem when family                                    says her mother, Toni
                                                                           Cheryl Rodgers was                                                                  Adams in Moriarty
  “That’s something that hap-       and schools have failed, she                                      Carrejo. “And she
                                                                         headstrong and opin-                                                COURTESY PHOTO    and lead him to the
pens,” he said.                     says.                                                             liked boys — too
                                                                         ionated and had little                                 Narvaiz’s small pick-          cemetery where
  Of the 300 DWI cases                                                                                much.”
                                      New Mexicans need to change        patience for people                                    up was stopped on              Cheryl was buried.
reviewed by the Journal, there                                                                          Rodgers had been
                                    their attitudes about alcohol, she   who complained or                                      Indian School at               He was remorseful
were 50 dismissals or not-guilty                                                                      friends with Precil-
                                    says.                                made excuses for                                       Tramway waiting for            and soon to be sen-
findings. At least 33 of those                                                                        iano Narvaiz all
                                                                         their failings. Drunk-                                 the light to turn green        tenced to prison for
were dismissed because of the         “Even if our system works                                       through high school,
                                                                         en driving, her moth-                                  when Gene Adams, a             seven years, and he
prosecution. Officers failing to    perfectly, will it prevent the                                    but they had just
                                                                         er says, was one of                                    30-year-old heavy-             said he wanted to
appear at trials and “state not     deaths and nightmares” caused                                     started going out as a
                                                                         Cheryl’s pet peeves.                                   equipment operator             apologize and ask for
ready” for trials were the most     by DWI? Brandenburg asks.                                         couple. They were all
                                                                           She was only 16, a                                   who had been drink-            forgiveness.
common reasons given in case        “Maybe some, maybe not.” ■                                        set to go to the prom
files.                                                                   junior at Moriarty                                     ing with his boss,
                                                                                                      and decided to make a     slammed his larger               “I have so much
                                                                         High School, but she         trip into Albuquerque
                                                                         already had her goals                                  pickup into them               pain in my heart from
                                                                                                      on April 19, 1996, to     from behind.                   the loss of my daugh-
                                                                         set and her plans in         finalize some prom          His truck rode up            ter,” Carrejo told him,
                                                                         motion: To attend the        plans and to have din-    on Narvaiz’s truck,            “I don’t have any
                                                                         University of Col-           ner and see a movie.      and its front end              more room to hate
                                                                         orado at Boulder and           At 10:30 that night,    crashed into the cab.          you.”


                                                                         MIGUEL MARTINEZ, 79                                                        struck his vehicle and
                                                                                                                                                    knocked him to the ground.
                                                                         Velarde                                                                    Martinez sat on the road and
                                                                         Killed by a drunken driver                                                 told his son he wanted to be
                                                                                                                                                    taken home to bed. Instead, he
                                                                                                                                                    was airlifted to University of
                                                                                                                                                    New Mexico Hospital where
                                                                         “He could sell anything.                                                   he died the next day.
                                                                         And he saved every                                                           His family buried him in the
                                                                         penny.”                                                                    best casket they could buy.
                                                                                 MICHAEL MARTINEZ,                                                    “This was the first time he
                                                                            MIGUEL MARTINEZ’S SON                                                   could not come back at us and
                                                                                                                                                    say we spent too much mon-
                                                                           Miguel Martinez spent his                                                ey,” Michael Martinez said.
                                                                         entire life in Velarde, a strip
                                                                         of rich farmland where the                                                   The man who hit Martinez
                                                                         Rio Grande spills out of                                  COURTESY PHOTO
                                                                                                                                                    was charged with drunken dri-
                                                                         Embudo Canyon and begins to                                                ving and vehicular homicide
                                                                         empty into the Española Val-         he encouraged his wife to             and sentenced to three years
                                                                         ley.                                 mend his pants and shirts long        in prison.
                                                                           Even though he seldom left         after his children thought they
                                                                                                              should go in the rag bag.               Less than four years later,
                                                                         the snug valley, he was known                                              and only a mile up the road
                                                                         by people throughout New               Martinez worked until well
                                                                                                              into his 70s, then closed the         from where Miguel Martinez
                                                                         Mexico. Martinez owned                                                     was hit, another drunken dri-
                                                                         Mike’s Cash Store, a grocery         store and settled into retire-
                                                                                                              ment. He was up with the              ver killed another member of
                                                                         store and gas station in                                                   the Martinez family.
                                                                         Velarde, for most of his life.       crows every morning, had
                                                                         He squeezed every penny              breakfast with Sylvia, his wife         Janelle Martinez, the 37-
                                                                         from the business, and he            of 56 years, and then headed          year-old wife of Miguel Mar-
                                                                         loved to chat with customers         out on a three-wheel ATV to           tinez’s son, Joseph, died when
                                                                         from behind the counter.             feed his pigs and chickens and        a drunk pulled in front of her,
                                                                           “The best gift he gave me          check on his orchards.                causing her truck to roll.
                                                                         was the gift of gab and how to         He was riding the ATV to
                                                                         sell,” said his son, Michael.        give a message to his son,              That driver had just come
                                                                           Martinez remembered the            Michael, on Nov. 19, 1996,            from court, where he had
                                                                         Great Depression. Even               when a driver turning off a           pleaded innocent to his sev-
                                                                         though his business did well,        county road onto N.M. 68              enth DWI charge.
                                                                                                                                                                      MK
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                        MK
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20 SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002

        “The defense has figured out we have a pretty
                 offender-friendly system.”
                GLENN ELLINGTON, STATE TAXATION AND REVENUE SECRETARY




          Not All Licenses Yanked
       REVOCATION IS AUTOMATIC WITH DWI ARRESTS, BUT
    DRIVERS ARE MORE SUCCESSFUL IN FIGHTING PENALTY
                                                                                                                                                                    COURTESY PHOTO
By Thomas J. Cole                                    revocations since at least 1985, the study says.       HEADED HOME: Ray and Christine Hobb’s pickup, right, was torn
Journal Investigative Reporter                          “This is another way for people to get out          in two by the force of a DWI collision.
  Motorists who drive drunk are supposed to          from under” DWI penalties, says Santa Fe
lose their licenses for at least 90 days, regard-    Police Chief John Denko, a former State Police
                                                     chief and president of the New Mexico Munici-
less of what happens in court.
  Increasingly, that isn’t happening.
  New Mexico, like many states, has what is
                                                     pal Chiefs of Police Association.
                                                        The overwhelming majority of the rescinded
                                                     revocations were caused when police officers
                                                                                                            life sentences                        by Leslie Linthicum
called administrative license revocation that is
                                                     failed to attend hearings on their arrests.
separate from the court process.
  Administrative revocations ranging from 90
                                                        Also a problem is a law requiring that a hear-      RAY HOBB, 36
                                                     ing be held no later than 90 days after the divi-
days to one year are automatic unless chal-
lenged before state hearing officers.
                                                     sion notifies a driver of revocation.
                                                        Some in law enforcement complain about the
                                                                                                            CHRISTINE HOBB, 33
  Terrance Schiavone, a state highway official
and former executive director of the National
Commission Against Drunken Driving, says
                                                     burden of police attending the hearings.
                                                        They also say hearing officers treat police         SAFAWNTYRA HOBB,
                                                     with disrespect and that defense attorneys are
administrative revocation was created because
of failures in the court system.
                                                     allowed to question officers about issues not          8 months
                                                                       germane.
  It is the only part of the DWI                                          Denko and others support          Navajo, N.M.
system that now delivers some-                                         doing away with administrative
thing close to swift and sure                                                                               Killed by a drunken driver
                                                                       license revocation and leaving
punishment, he says.                                                   license suspensions and revoca-
  But more drivers accused of                                          tions for drunken driving up to      “Maybe it’s like they knew
drunken driving are fighting the                                       the courts.
loss of their licenses in adminis-                                        “The person has to go to court    something. They didn’t                                  COURTESY PHOTO
trative proceedings.                                                   anyway,” he says.
  And more are winning.                                                   Currently, however, adminis-      take the kids this time.”            Ray Hobb was driving the
  “The defense has figured out                                         trative license revocation is                                           pickup as they pulled out of
                                                                                                                       MARIE CORNFIELD,
we have a pretty offender-            SCHIAVONE:     ELLINGTON:                                                                                McDonald’s in downtown
                                                                       more successful than the courts.
friendly system,” says state          State          State                More than 89 percent of dri-
                                                                                                             CHRISTINE HOBB’S MOTHER           Gallup and, on a green light,
Taxation and Revenue Secretary highway               Taxation and vers arrested for DWI in 1999                                                pulled onto U.S. 66, the main
Glenn Ellington.                      official and   Revenue           lost their licenses in administra-     Ray and Christine Hobb           street that bisects the town.
  Those DWI offenders who win ex-director of         secretary                                              worked hard, selling and             Johnny Caballero had been
                                                                       tion revocation. That was far
administrative revocations but        the National                                                          installing television satellite    drinking at a nearby bar that
                                                                       above the court conviction rate
are convicted in courts still face Commission                                                                                                  evening and drove out of the
                                                                       of 65 percent recorded in that       systems on the Navajo reserva-
loss of their licenses.                                                                                                                        parking lot without his lights
                                      Against                          year, according to the state DWI     tion and making and selling sil-
  Drivers convicted of first-                                                                                                                  on and led police around Gallup
                                      Drunken                          Citation Tracking File.              ver jewelry in their spare time.
offense DWI lose their licenses                                                                                                                side streets for several minutes
                                                                          Administrative license revoca-      Not that they had much time
for one year if they don’t attend Driving                                                                                                      when he pulled onto U.S. 66.
DWI school. Repeat offenders                                           tion is considered by experts to     to spare. Not with seven chil-
                                                     be one of the most effective tools in deterring        dren — one in diapers, two in        Police backed off, but
lose their licenses for a period of one to 10                                                                                                  Caballero was running red
years.                                               drunken driving.                                       high school and four in
                                                        But Ellington says it needs to be reformed or       between.                           lights and going an estimated
  Ellington oversees hearing officers who rule                                                                                                 100 mph when he slammed into
on appeals from drivers fighting administrative      abandoned.                                               Ray and Christine had been
                                                        Prosecutors don’t attend the hearings, leaving      married for 18 years and still     the side of the Hobbs’ pickup.
revocations. The length of revocation depends                                                                                                  The truck was torn into two
upon a driver’s age, whether a blood-alcohol         police officers on their own to face defense           enjoyed spending their days
                                                     attorneys.                                             working together and their         pieces, and Ray and Christine
test was refused and the driver’s DWI record.
                                                        Ellington says defense attorneys, in question-      evenings watching one of their     were dead. Safawntyra died
  The state must show at the hearings that:
  ■ The arresting officer had reasonable             ing officers, are using the hearings to find evi-      children play basketball or tak-   hours later.
grounds to believe the person was driving            dence to bolster their cases on the criminal           ing the kids into Gallup for         At home, six children waited
under the influence of alcohol or drugs.             side.                                                  hamburgers.                        for their parents, frightened
  ■ The driver was arrested.                            “It’s all about fighting the conviction,” he          On March 13, 2000, Ray and       and alone. Grandparents and
  ■ The driver refused to take a blood-alcohol       says. “The real frustration is that this has           Christine got a paycheck and       aunts and uncles stepped in to
test or if the driver submitted to a test, the       turned into a minitrial.”                              headed into Gallup in the after-   take care of the five older girls
blood-alcohol content was at least .08 for a dri-       Ellington tried but failed this year to get the     noon. The older kids were still    and little Ray Jr.
ver 21 or older or at least .02 if the driver was    Legislature to approve a bill that would have          in school, so only the 8-month-      After the funerals, Christine
under 21.                                            changed procedural and evidence rules for the          old baby, Safawntyra, came         Hobb’s mother, Marie Corn-
  A total of 4,782 drivers challenged adminis-       hearings.                                              along.                             field, said the family could take
trative license revocations in 2000, the most           He also wanted hearing officers to have the           They cashed the paycheck,        at least some comfort in Ray
appeals since 1993, according to a study by the      option of holding hearings by telephone, making        bought groceries and did some      and Christine’s decision to not
Division of Government Research at the Uni-          it easier to accommodate police schedules and          more shopping, putting a com-      take the entire family into town
versity of New Mexico.                               saving some cases that otherwise would have            puter and some clothes for the     that afternoon.
  The hearing officers sustained revocations in      been lost to the 90-day rule.                          kids on layaway. Then they           Caballero pleaded guilty to
52 percent of the cases but rescinded revoca-           Schiavone says he opposes doing away with           headed to McDonald’s for a         three counts of vehicular homi-
tions in 48 percent.                                 administrative revocation but agrees that              late dinner.                       cide.
  It was the highest percentage of rescinded         changes are needed.
                        MK
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                                                                                                                                      MK
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SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002                                                                                                                                    21




                                    Stopping Those
                                    Who Start Young
                                  JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM FAILS TO PROTECT PUBLIC
                                            OR PREVENT REPEAT OFFENSES
                      By Thomas J. Cole                   Krystle Duran, the drunken
                      Journal Investigative             driver who killed Smith,
                      Reporter                          entered into a consent decree
                           oelle Arrangoiz and          for her first DWI arrest.


                      N    Steve Smith were dri-
                           ving from Denver to
                           Santa Fe for a long week-
                      end when they stopped for
                      gasoline in Las Vegas, N.M.
                                                        Under the decree, the case
                                                        would be dismissed after six
                                                        months’ probation.
                                                          She crashed into Arrangoiz
                                                        and Smith before the six
                         “The last thing I remember     months had ended. Duran is
                      saying to Steve was, ‘I think     now serving two years in a
                      this is the                       juvenile facility for homicide
                      way back to                       by vehicle.
                      the                                 Arrangoiz, 41, is still
                      highway,’ ’’                      receiving physical therapy
                      Arrangoiz                         for injuries suffered in the
                      says.                             accident. And there is the
                         She was at                     emotional hurt of losing
                      the wheel of a                    Smith. The couple, both rock
                      silver Honda                      climbers, had lived together
                      Accord when                       for a year.
                      it was hit                          “I’m having a hard time
                      broadside at      DURAN: In       wrapping myself around the
                      the intersec-     juvenile        fact that he is gone,” Arran-
                      tion of Grand facility for        goiz says. “I knew he was a
                      and Universi- homicide by         person I was going to spend
                      ty avenues by vehicle             the rest of my life with.”
                      a drunken dri-                      Arrangoiz says juvenile
                      ver speeding through a red        drunken drivers need to be
                      light.                            held accountable and that
                         Smith, 38, died instantly in   consent decrees like that in
                      the crash on the evening of       Duran’s first DWI arrest
                      Feb. 17, 2001.                    aren’t adequate.
                         The drunken driver was a         “I definitely think it sends
                      repeat DWI offender. And          the wrong message,” she
                      she was just 15.                  says.
                         New Mexico’s juvenile jus-       She now warns friends
                      tice system is failing children   traveling to New Mexico
                      and society when it comes to      about the state’s problem
                      dealing with minors arrested      with drunken drivers.
                      for drunken driving.                “You live in a beautiful
                         Juveniles repeat as drunk-     state, but I never want to go
                      en drivers at about the same      back there,” she says.
                      rate as adults. But only one in
                      four minors arrested for DWI
                      ends up with a conviction on
                      his driving record.
                                                        The next generation
                         When juvenile DWI offend-        New Mexico has one of the
                      ers repeat as adults, judges      worst teen-age crash death
                      are less likely to know about     rates in the nation. About                                                    COURTESY OF DENVER POST
                      their arrests as minors. That     5,000 teen drivers are           KILLED IN CRASH: Steve Smith makes his way up Mount Toll
                      often translates into lighter     injured or killed every year     in the Indian Peaks Wilderness near Boulder, Colo. He was
                      sentences.                        in the state.              ➔     killed by a drunken driver a few months later in Las Vegas, N.M.
                                                                                                                                      MK
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22 SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002

                                       Chavez was arrested for
 STARTING YOUNG                      drunken driving again in 1993

  Drinking and driving is a big
part of the problem. In fact,
                                     as an adult. That case was dis-
                                     missed when the arresting offi-
                                     cer failed to appear for trial.
                                                                          life sentences                         by Leslie Linthicum
DWI is the leading cause of
death and injury in New Mexico
                                       Chavez drove drunk for the
                                     last time on the evening of Feb.     ANGELA PORTILLO, 21                 supervisor.
                                                                                                                 Portillo worked a night shift,
for people between the ages of 1     3, 1995.                             Albuquerque                         and her mother, Lisa Meek,
and 44.                                He was heading south on                                                stayed with the girls after she
  The amount of alcohol minors       Tramway Boulevard on a motor-        Killed in crash                     got off work as an operating
consume and their inexperience       cycle shortly before 10. He was                                          room technician.
in driving can lead to cata-         speeding, estimated between 85                                              On a rare night off in August,
strophic results.                    and 122 mph.
                                                                          “I felt like somebody               Portillo and two friends decided
  “We can’t accept this,” says         A teen-age girl heading north      ripped out my heart. Oh,            to take the girls to the fiesta in
Leroy Garcia, director of the        on Tramway turned west onto                                              Española. Instead of Portillo
Juvenile Justice Division of the     Academy Road, unaware of the         God, it was the worst day           taking them in her Chevy Cava-
state Department of Children,        motorcycle’s high rate of speed                                          lier, they decided to go in her
Youth and Families.                  and believing she had enough         of my life.”                        friend’s new Jeep.
  A person who begins drinking       time to clear the intersection.                LISA MEEK, ANGELA            They spent the evening at the
at age 16 or 17 has a four to five   She didn’t.                                                              fiesta and then stopped in Santa
                                                                                   PORTILLO’S MOTHER
times greater chance of becom-         Chavez was dead in an instant.                                         Fe and had some drinks at a rel-                           COURTESY PHOTO
ing involved in an alcohol-relat-    His body was torn apart. A sev-        Angela Portillo hit her bumps     ative’s house. Portillo was             Gov. Gary Johnson and a New
ed crash as an adult.                ered leg struck the traffic light    in life early. A dropout from the   fiercely protective of her girls,    Mexico State Police officer
  “That’s our next generation of     some 18 feet above the intersec-     Albuquerque Public Schools          but she was drunk in the back        came upon the crash within sec-
drunk drivers,” says Terry           tion.                                alternative School on Wheels,       seat of the Jeep when the group      onds. Johnson held Portillo, he
Huertaz, state executive direc-                                           she was the divorced mother of      left Santa Fe and headed down        later told her mother, and she
tor of Mothers Against Drunk                                              two girls by the time she was       Interstate 25 that night, accord-    died in his arms.
Driving.                             Process complicated                  21.                                 ing to Meek.                            The owner of the Jeep,
  For the years 1990 through                                                But Portillo doted on her            “It just took one time to put     Denice Godinez, initially told
1999, there were 4,532 arrests of      There were 475 juvenile DWI        daughters, 3-year-old Evie and      those girls in danger,” Meek         police she was driving, then lat-
minors for DWI in New Mexico.        arrests in the 12 months ended       1-year-old Tanya. And she was       said. “You’re not in the position    er said she was not. Her blood-
About 300 were arrested more         June 30, 2001, according to data     intent on making a good life for    to make decisions when you’re        alcohol level was above the
than once.                           from the Department of Chil-         them. She got her own apart-        so loaded.”                          legal limit, and she pleaded
                                     dren, Youth and Families.            ment in Albuquerque in the             Near La Bajada, the Jeep          guilty to two counts of aggra-
  For those minors who had a
                                       About 100 of those cases never     spring of 1998 and decorated it     crossed into the highway medi-       vated battery for her role in the
recorded blood-alcohol level                                                                                                                       crash and was put on probation.
                                     made it to court or were dis-        with sunflowers. She received       an and rolled. All three adults
when arrested, the average was       missed by judges once they did.                                                                                  A cross stands at the site Por-
nearly .13, well above the legal                                          her high school equivalency         were thrown from the vehicle.
                                     Another 147 arrests resulted in      diploma and got a job as a secu-    The children, buckled in seat        tillo died, and her mother has
limit of .08.                        consent decrees like those                                                                                    decorated it with the wings of
                                                                          rity guard. Within two months       belts in the back seat, were
  When a minor is arrested for       entered into by Chavez and                                                                                    an angel.
                                                                          she had been promoted to            fine.
drunken driving, the matter is       Duran.
referred to Garcia’s division.         “You aren’t doing any favors
  The division has the option of     for these kids,” says Santa Fe
handling the case informally —
meaning no permanent record
                                     Police Chief John Denko, a for-      EULYNDA TOLEDO-BENALLI, 48
                                     mer State Police chief and presi-
or time in a juvenile lockup.        dent of the New Mexico Munici-       Albuquerque
  Or, Garcia’s division can refer    pal Chiefs of Police Association.    Injured by a drunken driver
a juvenile DWI arrest to a dis-        “We’re sending the opposite
trict attorney, who in turn can      message,” Denko says. “We still
take the case to Children’s          have a propensity to say kids are    “My physical pain feels like a ball
Court. That happens in most          kids.”
cases involving minors arrested        Some of the cases are still
                                                                          and chain. There’s a weight that holds
for DWI.                             pending and other files had          me down.”
                                     incomplete information.
                                       Of the finalized cases in the                                                                                            ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
Didn’t get the message               data provided by the Department        After the head-on collision, after the two-hour
                                                                          ordeal of being cut out of her van, after the         hit. The driver of the truck that hit her was
                                     of Children, Youth and Families,                                                           killed.
  Robert R. Chavez of Albu-          117 of the arrests resulted in       three weeks in the hospital, the 13 surgeries and
querque was first arrested for                                            the three months at the rehabilitation center,          Toledo-Benalli had a crushed pelvis, a torn liv-
                                     judges finding the juveniles to be                                                         er, two collapsed lungs and a crushed right leg.
DWI in 1988 at age 17. His                                                Eulynda Toledo-Benalli went home in a wheel-
                                     delinquent and imposing proba-                                                             She also had three children at home — a 13-
blood-alcohol content was a                                               chair.
                                     tion.                                                                                      year-old daughter, a 2-year-old daughter and a
staggering .19 — more than                                                  An elementary school teacher and a runner of
                                       Judges imposed time in a juve-                                                           1-year-old son.
twice the current legal limit.                                            half marathons before the accident, Toledo-
                                     nile lockup in 30 cases.             Benalli had to learn to walk again with a cane.         The people of Cañoncito sent meals to the
  Like Duran in her first drunk-       The important thing about
en driving arrest, Chavez                                                 Running was out of the question. Climbing             house and Toledo-Benalli’s mother took care of
                                     judges sentencing juveniles to       stairs was a painful and exhausting chore. Even       her and the children during the day. At night,
entered into a consent decree.       probation or jail time is that the
He agreed to probation for six                                            sitting for more than 20 minutes was hard.            her husband, David, managed the household.
                                     conviction usually goes on the         Toledo-Benalli, a member of the Navajo tribe          It took a therapist’s help for Toledo-Benalli to
months in exchange for the           offender’s driving record. That      who had grown up in Fort Wingate, had sur-            accept that she would never go back to the
charge being dismissed.              means judges have something to       vived a collision with a drunken driver on a two-     physically active life she had before.
  The probation agreement            consider if the driver repeats the   lane reservation road. People told her she was          Her activity now is mental and intellectual.
called for Chavez to attend an       crime as an adult.                   fortunate. But she didn’t feel lucky. Within a        She is completing her doctoral dissertation at
alcohol-treatment program,             The way juvenile DWI arrests       few months of coming home, depression hit.            the University of New Mexico and produces
report to a probation officer at     are handled by the justice system      “I was crying all the time,” Toledo-Benalli         documentaries for KUNM-FM.
least once a month, obey his         can be discouraging to law           recalled. “‘Why is this the end of my running           Three years ago, as she was making headway
parents, go to school, be home       enforcement.                         career? Why can’t I teach anymore? Why is this        in her emotional healing, Toledo-Benalli ven-
by 1 a.m. on Fridays and Satur-        “They know it’s the black hole,”   so hard? Why has my whole life changed so dra-        tured out after dark to attend a lecture at UNM.
days, and not drink or take          says Linda Atkinson, executive       matically?’ ’’                                        On her way home, four blocks from her house,
drugs.                               director of the nonprofit DWI          Toledo-Benalli had been driving with five stu-      she was hit by a car that ran a red light. Police
  He completed the probation         Resource Center in Albuquerque.      dents from the Cañoncito elementary school in         told her the driver’s blood-alcohol level was four
but apparently didn’t get the          Arresting juveniles for DWI is     preparation for a summer wilderness camp
                                                                                                                                times the legal limit.
message about drinking and dri-      much more time consuming than        expedition on June 10, 1993, when the van was
ving.                                arresting adults.                ➔
                         MK
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                                                                                                                                                                      MK
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SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002                                                                                                                                                                    23

                                       ineffectiveness in dealing with
 STARTING YOUNG                        Trujillo isn’t unusual.

  Intoxicated minors must be
                                         Of the juveniles arrested for
                                       DWI from 1990 through 1994,
                                       about 40 percent were arrested
                                                                            life sentences                        by Leslie Linthicum
checked by doctors before being
                                       again for drunken driving before
placed in juvenile facilities, and
many counties don’t have such          the end of the decade — about
                                       the same as the rate for all dri-
                                                                            SONJA BRITTON, 62                                                         because “you never stop cry-
                                                                                                                                                      ing.”
facilities. That means some offi-                                           Moriarty                                                                     Britton knows.
cers must make long drives to          vers 18 and older arrested for                                                                                    In 1991, her only son was rid-
other counties just to place the       DWI.                                 DWI activist                                                              ing his motorcycle outside
juvenile in detention.                                                                                                                                Durango when a car crossed
  “All law enforcement can do is                                                                                                                      the center line and plowed into
pick them up and put them into         Age specific                         “I would like to see New                                                  the car that was in front of him,
the system and hope for the best.         Dante Gonzales of Los Lunas       Mexico start something.”                                                  killing the two women occu-
That’s what they do, hope for the      was arrested once for DWI at age                                                                               pants.
best,” says Richard Ness, execu-       15 and twice at                                                                                                   He hit that car and, although
tive director of the New Mexico                                               In Sonja Britton’s dream,                                               he was wearing a helmet, the
                                       age 17. None of                      everyone who comes in and out
Sheriffs and Police Association                                                                                                                       force of the crash tore his
                                       the arrests                          of New Mexico along Interstate
and a former Torrance County                                                                                                                          femoral artery and he bled to
                                       resulted in a con-                   40 is confronted by the terrible
sheriff.                                                                                                                                              death.
  “The whole system is loaded up       viction on his dri-                  price New Mexicans pay for                                                   Monty “Butch” Britton was 30
to benefit the juvenile,” Ness         ving record.                         allowing drunks to drive.                                                 years old and had an 11-month-
says.                                     He was picked                       In her dream, a field of white                                          old son.
  He and others suspect some           up again for                         gravestones rises along the side                                             The 24-year-old driver that
officers charge juvenile drunken       drunken driving                      of the interstate. Each grave-                                            caused the crash had lost his
drivers with the lesser offense of     in March 1992.                       stone represents one person                                               license because of prior drunk-
being in possession of alcohol to      By then he was       GONZALES:       killed in an accident that                                                en driving convictions.
avoid the hassles.                     21.                  Judge not       involved alcohol in New Mexico                   ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
                                                                                                                                                         He was sentenced to 16 years
                                          Just a few days aware of          in the past five years.                                                   in prison for DWI, vehicular
                                                                                                               to the devastation of the lives
                                       after the arrest,    juvenile          In her dream, there are more                                            homicide and other charges in
                                                                                                               lost to DWI and the high price
Repeat offender                        an alcohol coun-     arrests         than 1,000 of the headstones       that we pay here,” Britton says.       the crash that claimed Britton’s
                                       selor sent a letter                  marching across the plains.          Britton has applied for non-         life.
   Ike Trujillo of Española was        to Gonzales’ employer and              Britton’s dream is based on      profit status, calling the memo-          Her son’s death opened Brit-
first arrested in August 1995 for      mailed a copy to the state magis-    reality. Drunken driving rou-      rial “DWI Memorial of Perpetu-         ton’s eyes to the ongoing car-
drunken driving when he attempt-       trate handling the DWI case.         tinely costs more than 200 lives                                          nage that results from the mix-
                                                                                                               al Tears Park.” The group is
ed to pass on a curve on N.M. 76,         “Mr. Dante Gonzales has taken     a year in New Mexico.              looking for 3 to 5 acres along I-      ture of alcohol and driving. She
lost control and flipped his car. He   it upon himself to begin weekly        Britton, who runs a self-stor-   40 in or near Moriarty.                hopes the memorial will do the
was 16.                                individual counseling,” the letter   age business with her husband        An architecture student has          same for others.
   Trujillo’s second arrest for DWI    said.                                in Moriarty, hatched the idea of   designed the park. And Britton            “We need to recognize the
came a month later when he drove          “Mr. Gonzales is receptive to     a roadside memorial to honor       designed the markers, each one         fact that we’re in a war here,”
a car into an irrigation ditch.        counseling and stated the drink-     the dead and confront the liv-     a simple powder-brushed steel          Britton says, “and we need to
   There is no record either of        ing on March 27, 1992, which led     ing.                               headstone etched with three            recognize the victims of this
those arrests ended up in court.       to a DWI was an isolated inci-         “I want their eyes to be open    teardrops. Tears, she says,            war.”
   Trujillo’s next DWI arrest came     dent,” the letter added.
when his car swerved and nearly           Whether the judge believed
struck another vehicle. Trujillo       Gonzales’ drinking was an isolat-
was 17 then. His blood-alcohol
content was .20.
                                       ed incident isn’t known. (He was
                                       later busted again for DWI.) But
                                                                            RONNY FRAZEE, 31
   A children’s judge ordered Tru-     the case is an example of what       Moriarty
jillo to serve 48 hours in detention   some people believe is a problem     Former drunken driver
and two years on probation.            with the way many juvenile DWI
   The judge also ordered him to       arrests are handled.
obtain a high-school equivalency          Of the 4,532 arrests of minors
                                                                            “Everybody else had a problem,
degree, attend treatment and per-      for drunken driving from 1990        but I didn’t.”
form 100 hours of community ser-       through 1999, only 1,174, or 26
vice.                                                                         Ronny Frazee never thought much about the
                                       percent, resulted in recorded
   Trujillo didn’t comply with the                                          sequence of events that landed him in court four
                                       convictions on driving records.
sentence, and juvenile authorities                                          times in a little more than 10 years.
                                          And judges aren’t aware of
reported he still had an alcohol                                              “You go to the bar, have a few beers and you
                                       DWI arrests unless they result in    go home,” Frazee says. “And you drive.”
problem when they recommended          recorded convictions. When Gon-        Arrested for DWI for the first time in Truth or
termination of his probation in        zales was arrested for DWI as an     Consequences when he was 19 and again in
1998.                                  adult, there was no way for the      Albuquerque when he was 24, Frazee went to
   None of Trujillo’s three arrests    judge to know of his three           court, paid his fines, accepted the court’s coun-
as a juvenile resulted in a record-    arrests as a minor since none        seling and got right back on the road.
ed conviction.                         resulted in recorded convictions.      “I’d go talk to my counselor,” he says, “stop
   But even if they had been              Even a conviction for DWI as a                                                                                          ROSE PALMISANO/JOURNAL
                                                                            and get me a quart and drink it on the way home.”
recorded, they could not have          juvenile can’t legally be used         Then Frazee, a dropout from Rio Grande High        driver’s license away, and Frazee knows he can
been used to enhance his sentence      against an adult for purposes of     School, turned 30 and realized he had a good job     never touch alcohol again if he is going to keep
as a repeat DWI offender as an         finding the adult guilty of a        that he liked and a girlfriend committed to stay-    his record clean.
adult.                                 repeat drunken driving offense.      ing with him despite his drinking binges.              “I love to shoot pool but I can’t,” he says. “If I
   Trujillo was arrested for DWI a        However, a judge can take           Back-to-back DWI arrests in Albuquerque and        go into a bar and shoot pool, I’ll drink a beer.
fourth time in 1998. Then 20, he       juvenile convictions into account    Moriarty last year got Frazee’s attention. He did    And if I drink a beer, eventually I’ll drive. So I
was found guilty of first-offense      when sentencing.                     90 days in the Torrance County Detention Cen-        just can’t.”
drunken driving in Española               “The amount of intervention                                                              Frazee, a carpenter, has also evolved into an
                                                                            ter and was enrolled in a Metropolitan Court
Municipal Court.                       we provide could be increased,”                                                           advocate for tougher DWI laws.
                                                                            program in Albuquerque that combined
   Trujillo spent nine days in jail    says J. Michael Kavanaugh, a                                                                “If it was up to me, you’d do five to 10 years in
                                                                            acupuncture, regular urine and blood screen-
for not complying with the judge’s     Metro Court judge in Albu-                                                                prison for the first one,” Frazee says. “There’s a
                                                                            ings, counseling and community service.
orders to attend DWI school and a      querque.                                                                                  lot of people getting hurt and dying, and it’s got
                                                                              More than a year later, Frazee says he no
victims panel on the impact of            For example, Kavanaugh says,                                                           to stop.”
                                                                            longer drinks or drives. The court has taken his
drunken driving.                       if he were aware of a juvenile
   The juvenile justice system’s       arrest for DWI, he could order ➔
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24 SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002

                                      “DWI is one
 STARTING YOUNG
supervised rather than unsuper-
                                      of those
                                      crimes that
                                                                           life sentences
vised probation for an adult                                               by Leslie Linthicum
offender.                             doesn’t
  He says he doesn’t like having
different courts for juvenile and     respect age
adult DWI offenders but says
                                      boundaries.”
                                                                           BREANN WILSON, 19
judges who handle minors need                                              Magdalena
to be qualified to do so.                  J. MICHAEL KAVANAUGH,
  “DWI is one of those crimes                   METRO COURT JUDGE
                                                                           Killed by a drunken driver
that doesn’t respect age bound-
aries,” Kavanaugh says.
                                                                           “There was people that met her once,
                                         A federal guide for prosecutors                                                                                               COURTESY PHOTO
                                      and judges says minors accused       and they came to the funeral.”                        Wilson, Rosales and Rosales’ cousin were dri-
Changes urged                         of drunken driving need to be                   ARCH WILSON, BREANN’S FATHER             ving from Colorado to Socorro for the funeral
  New Mexico spends millions of       handled in a way that protects                                                           of Rosales’ grandfather on March 21, 2001,
dollars a year trying to convince     the public, holds them account-        Arch and Cecilia Wilson had done their jobs.      when their lives collided with Ramon Rico
minors not to drink and to catch      able to the community and vic-         Their younger daughter, Breann, had breezed       Estebane on Interstate 25 south of Santa Fe.
them if they do.                      tims, and provides education and     through high school, winning belt buckles and         According to prosecutors, Estebane had fin-
  Under a law enacted in 1994,        treatment.                           saddles on the rodeo circuit and being named        ished some beers at a friend’s house and was
drivers under 21 need only have          David Schmidt, executive          Socorro County Fair Queen in 1999.                  driving north in the southbound lanes of the
                                      director of the New Mexico             She worked hard on her family’s 15,000-acre       interstate when his Cadillac collided with Bre-
a blood-alcohol content of .02 to
                                      Council on Crime and Delinquen-      cattle ranch, riding the range on one of her        ann’s Buick Regal. She died instantly and the
lose their licenses for six months.                                                                                            two boys were seriously injured.
  But some people believe more        cy, says he opposes changing the     horses any time she could find a reason to.
                                      Children’s Code to have juvenile       Wilson had found a good boyfriend, 18-year-         Estebane, a Mexican national, had been dri-
work needs to be done.                                                                                                         ving without a license or insurance and had a
                                      DWI offenders treated as adults.     old Tommy Rosales from nearby Lemitar. They
  Atkinson says minors arrested                                                                                                criminal history in Santa Fe dating back to
                                         But Schmidt says the Chil-        had put off wedding plans so Rosales could fin-
for drunken driving should be                                                                                                  1989, according to prosecutors.
                                      dren’s Code could be amended to      ish diesel mechanic training in Colorado.
tried in adult courts.                                                                                                           He fled the scene and was captured after an
                                      include mandatory sentencing for       Wilson was a freckle-faced beauty with a
  “If you’re old enough to drive,                                                                                              extensive manhunt.
                                      minors and to create special         sunny smile who loved family picnics and took
you’re old enough to suffer the                                                                                                  Estebane eventually pleaded guilty to
                                      courts to handle juvenile DWI        her responsibilities seriously. She went with
adult consequences,” she says.                                                                                                 charges stemming from Wilson’s death and
                                      arrests.                             her friends to keg parties in high school but
The adult court system “will                                                                                                   injuries to Rosales and his cousin.
                                         Also, he says, some mechanism     always volunteered to be the designated driver.
make more of an impression on                                                                                                    The crash has left the Wilsons with a hole in
                                      could be created that would alert    She was proud to have turned 18 and cast her        their lives.
juveniles.”
                                      adult court judges to the juvenile   vote in a presidential election.                      “Things you thought were important, they
  A minor found to have been dri-
                                      DWI arrests of drivers who come        “She was just about the most responsible per-     don’t mean a damn thing,” said Cecelia Wilson.
ving drunk in a fatal accident can
                                      before them.                         son you could imagine,” Arch Wilson said. “We       “There’s a sadness that wasn’t there before.
be committed to a juvenile facili-
                                         “Certainly something has to be    were really proud.”                                 She was just getting going.”
ty for a maximum of two years.
                                      done,” Schmidt says.
  Nadine Milford, state chair-           Garcia, of the Juvenile Justice
woman of Mothers Against              Division, says he would like to
Drunk Driving, says that is sim-
ply not enough punishment for
                                      speed up the normal time
                                      between a juvenile’s arrest for
                                                                           BILLY POWELL, 67                                                        horses for other owners.
                                                                                                                                                     “Bill was a real horseman,”
such a serious offense.                                                    Albuquerque                                                             Scolavino said. “He understood
                                      DWI and court action.                                                                                        why horses did what they did.”
  But District Attorney Kari
Brandenburg in Albuquerque
                                         “Kids get a real serious mes-     Killed by a drunken driver                                                Powell was happiest at a
                                      sage right away,” Garcia says.                                                                               racetrack, on a golf course or
says she doesn’t believe adult        “He’s held accountable immedi-
courts are an alternative for                                                                                                                      in the cab of a pickup on a clear
juveniles accused of DWI.
                                      ately. The longer we wait the        “Of all the people that                                                 day. “He loved to drive,”
                                      more apt they are to get into                                                                                Scolavino said.
  “Are you going to say the adult     trouble again.”                      pass through your life,                                                   Powell left Albuquerque ear-
system is better?” Brandenburg           Cases can take months to make
asks.                                 it to court, he says.
                                                                           there’s always one that                                                 ly on July 19, 1997, to haul a
  Some propose some sort of                                                                                                       COURTESY PHOTO   horse to the Downs at Santa Fe.
mandatory sentencing for juve-
                                         Garcia says consent decrees       gets under your skin.”             and was looking for a job with
                                                                                                                                                   He was heading north on Inter-
                                      are appropriate in DWI arrests                                                                               state 25 at the Santo Domingo
niles similar to that in place for    where there aren’t other signs of          EVE SCOLAVINO, BILLY         horses in her home town of           Pueblo exit when a car passed
adults.                               trouble — such as bad grades in            POWELL’S GIRLFRIEND          Albuquerque when she met             him, swerved into the median
  “We need to have them (juve-        school and trouble at home.                                             Powell in 1985 at the Downs at       and back into his lane.
niles) jump through hoops so they        “People are worth taking a          Billy Powell was born on the     Albuquerque. She was 27 and
                                                                                                                                                     Jurors who convicted the 20-
don’t do it again,” says District     chance on,” he says. “The vast       plains of eastern New Mexico       had been hired on by some of
                                                                                                                                                   year-old driver of that car on
Attorney Matthew Sandoval in                                               and fell in love with horses       Powell’s hands to help exercise
                                      majority are kids. They are going                                                                            vehicular homicide charges
Las Vegas, who also heads the                                              from the first time he was         horses. It was several days lat-
                                      to be OK.”                                                                                                   heard evidence that he had
state association of DAs. “We                                              placed in a saddle. He was rid-    er when she finally introduced
                                         But, Garcia says, consent                                                                                 been drinking all night and was
need to raise the bar.”                                                    ing as a jockey at the racetrack   herself to Powell, her new boss.
                                      decrees are inappropriate when                                                                               legally drunk that morning.
                                                                           in Raton as soon as he got out       “I told those guys not to hire
  Alcohol-abuse screening is          juveniles repeat as drunken dri-                                                                               Powell jerked his truck to the
                                                                           of high school.                    someone,” Powell said.
mandatory in all adult cases, and     vers.                                                                                                        right to avoid the car, scraped
                                                                             Photos from the winner’s cir-      “Am I fired?” she asked.
community service is required            Communities need to get                                                “No,” he said, “you can stay.”     the concrete wall and could not
for some repeat offenders.                                                 cle — and there are many —                                              control his truck and the 32-
                                      involved in the juvenile DWI         show a slim, handsome man            Within a year, Powell and
  The state this year also enacted    problem by changing their per-                                          Scolavino were inseparable.          foot trailer he was pulling. His
                                                                           with a faint smile. He raced all                                        truck broke free and flipped.
a law mandating ignition inter-       missive attitudes about kids and                                        They moved in together, and
                                                                           over the Southwest and, at age
locks for some first-time adult       alcohol and by providing commu-      40, when his weight got the bet-   Powell began teaching Scolavi-         Powell, who hated to wear a
offenders and all adults found        nity-service opportunities for       ter of him, moved into the busi-   no about thoroughbred horses.        seat belt, was thrown from the
guilty of a repeat DWI. The locks     children who get into trouble,       ness of training race horses.      He gave her her first race           truck and run over by its back
disable a car when a driver is        Garcia says.                           Eve Scolavino was a retired      horse, and the two traveled to       tires.
intoxicated.                             “A lot of communities don’t       ballerina fresh from the Ameri-    races in New Mexico, Arizona           Scolavino knows Powell
  These laws don’t apply to juve-     want to take responsibility,” he     can Ballet Theater in New York     and Texas, breeding and racing       would have been happy to have
nile drunken drivers.                 says. “We can’t give up.” ■                                             their own horses and training        known that the horse survived.
                         MK
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SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002                                                                                                              25


LIVES LOST                                                                                                       1999-2001
 Abeita, Janet
 Acosta, Juan
 Acosta, Leonel
 Adame, Maria
 Adame, Sandra
 Adobe, Robert
 Aguilar, Beverly J.
 Aguilar, Virgil J.
 Aguilera, Fernando
 Aguino, Georgia
 Albert, Lorenda
 Allsup, Andrea
 Allsup, Shannon
 Alonzo, Lolita
 Anchondo, Eustolia
 Andrews, Edward
 Angelino, Joe
 Anglin, Andy
 Anthony, Clement
 Antonio, Herbert
 Apachito, Felix
 Aragon, Cisco
 Archuleta, Art J.
 Archuleta, Roxanne
 Arellano, Daniel
 Arenas, Jose
 Armendariz, Jose
 Armendariz-Oroz, Hector
 Armstrong, James
 Armstrong, Paul
 Arnold, Krespen
 Atem-Begay, George
 Austin, Ann Beth
 Awelagate, Marlo
 Baca, Anthony
 Baca, Catherine
 Baca, Gary
 Baca, Tino
 Bahe, Brenna
 Bahe, David
 Baldonado, Lawrence
 Bales, Donald
 Barela, David
 Barnaby, Gerald
 Barnes, Jimmy
 Barr, Jon
 Barraza, Lorenzo
 Barriga, Raul
 Bayley, Brett
 Becenti, Virginia
 Beck, Kimberly
 Beckett, Destiny
 Begay, Eddie
 Begay, Johanson
 Begay, Michael C.
 Belone, Dallas R.
 Ben, Justin
 Benally, Edvern
 Benally, James
 Benally, Wilbert Sr.
 Benavidez, Patrick
 Bia, Adrian
 Billie, Sophia
 Billy, Darrel
 Bitsilly, Gerald
 Blackie, Chester          Brown, Terrell        Capuccilli, Gino      Castro, Aloata     Charley, Woody   Claw, Edison
 Bonomo, Reno J.           Brown, Winifred       Carman, Lester        Castro, Dimas      Chavez, Dennis   Cleveland, Benjamin
 Borjurquez, Maggie        Calabaza, Stephanie   Casarez, Teresa       Cates, Richard     Chavez, Johnny   Coleman, Shawn
 Boulware, Donald          Cambridge, Carlas     Casaus, Joseph        Charles, Farrell   Chavez, Juan     Concha, Seven Gifts
 Bradley, Charles          Cambridge, Larry      Castillo, Guadalupe   Charles, Olin      Chavez, Robert   Concho, Lloyd
 Brown, Joliene            Candelaria, Steve     Castillo, Ramon       Charley, Jerome    Chee, Isabelle   Contreras, Abe R.     ➔
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26 SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002


LIVES LOST                                                                                                                                       1999-2001
 Cornejo, Gabe                Garcia, Jesus           Jameson, Evan         Marr, Michael        Orona, David           Saltwater, Waylon       Trujillo, Jabes
 Costello, Dadrian            Garcia, Mike            Jarvison, Alfred      Martin, Jermmaine    Orozco, Isabel         Samora, Jeremy          Trujillo, John
 Cote, Craig                  Garcia, Patrick         Jeffery, Cindy Ann    Martinez, Adrian     Orr, Stephan           Samora, Oraldo          Trujillo, Manuel
 Coucke, Maarten              Garcia, Raymond         Jim, Harlan           Martinez, Anthony    Orrantia, Michael      Sanchez, Christina      Trujillo, Richard
 Couder, Salvador             Garcia, Santiago        Jim, Jeremy           Martinez, Candido    Ortega, Fabian         Sanchez, Christine      Trujillo, Robert
 Crank, Natalia               Garcia, Siobhan         Jim, Roxanne          Martinez, Cheryl     Ortega, Joseph         Sanchez, Christopher    Tsinajinnie, Tom
 Crespin, Robert              Garcia, Yolanda         Jim, Vance            Martinez, Fermin     Ortega, Sharon Renee   Sanchez, Eluid          Tso, Lorenzo
 Crespin, William             Garcirita, Juan         Jimenez, Javier       Martinez, Gilbert    Ortiz, Mark            Sanchez, Joe            Tsosie, Pauline
 Crum, Rashaan                Glenn, Kenneth          Jiminez, Arturo       Martinez, Janelle    Outland, Maria         Sanchez, Nicolas M.     Tsosie, Richard
 Cruz, Sylvia                 Gomez, Shorey           Joe, Scott            Martinez, John       Ownbey, Nancy          Sanchez, Peter          Tsosie, Victor
 Crystal, Jim                 Gomez-Pimental, Juan    Johnson, Brad Allan   Martinez, Johnny     Padilla, Lee           Sanchez-Villa,          Urioste, George
 Cullen, William L.           Gonzales, Andrea        Johnson, Casey        Martinez, Jose       Padilla, Lora            Juan Jose             Valdez, Michael
 Curley, Gerald               Gonzales, Daniel        Johnson, Kelly        Martinez, Joyvette   Padilla, Matthew       Sandoval, Linda         Valley, Shauna
 Curtis, Thomas               Gonzales, Julian        Johnson, Roger        Martinez, Marcos     Padilla, Shiela        Sandoval, Randy         Varela, Juan
 Dakin, Theodore              Gonzalez, Antonio       Johnson, Rosie        Martinez, Matthew    Papamarkos, George     Sanford, Bill           Vasquez, Jose
 Dale, Jerry                  Gonzalez, Maximiliano   Johnson, Toby         Martinez, Rueben     Pecos, Theron L.       Sargeant, Kathryn       Vasquez, Martin
 Daniels, Derick              Gonzalez, Ricardo       Johnson, Willie       Mason, Bryon         Perez, Lorenzo         Schell, James           Velasquez, Diego
 Dann, Dennis                 Graves, Michael         Jojola, Manoa         Mason, Heidi         Perez, Paul Aaron      Seamon, Michelle        Velasquez, Donnie
 Daves, Thomas                Gray, Sam               Jones, Alfred         Mattox, Thomas       Perry, Richard         Selph, Joseph           Velasquez, Gina
 Day, Tyrone                  Green, James            Jones, Jason          Maynes, Jimmy        Perry, Steven Lee      Sena, Marcos            Vicenti, Ernest
 Dean, Ronnie                 Green, Lawrence         Jones, Jerry          McCann, John F.      Pete, Jim              Serna, Ernest           Vickroy, John
 Delgado, Luis                Griego, Kenny           Jones, Shawn          McElroy, Rick        Peterson, Chris        Serna, Frances          Vigil, Charles
 Denetclarence,               Guerin, Michelle        Juanico, Merlin       Medina, Adolfo       Piaso, Rose            Shelley, Gary           Vigil, Eugene
   Irvin M.                   Guilez, Genevieve       Kachichov, Angel      Medina, Daniel       Pine, Lashuka          Sherlin, Eula           Vigil, Johnny
 Dennison, Alex               Gunter, Edwin           Kelsey, Lydel         Medina, Jan          Pino, Greta            Sherman, James          Vigil, Jose
 Dennison, Gilbert            Gurule, Frank           Kidman, Mary          Medina, Martin       Pino, Leandro          Shi, Jing Xuan          Vigil, Leroy
 DiJulio, Mary Louise         Gurule, Richard         Kidman, Russell       Menasco, Angela      Pinto, Roy             Shonrock, Dale          Villegas, Fausto
 Doe, John                    Gutierrez, Danny        King, Diane           Mendez, Adrian       Placencio, Geoffrey    Shrout, Lawrence        Vincent, Shirley
 Dominguez, Herman            Gutierrez, Joaquin      King, Todd            Mendez, Alexander    Platero, Larry         Silversmith, Edison
                                                                                                                                                Vincent, William
 Dominguez, John              Hannah, Lorraine        Kinkade, Joshua       Mendez, Jose         Pomeroy, Michael       Silversmith, Frank
                                                                                                                                                Vogel, Karen
 Drennen, Cheryl Jen          Harris, Rosemarie       Kinlicheenie, Jane    Mendez, Rogelio      Pope, Lynne            Simsovic, Brian
                                                                                                                                                Waconda, Jennifer
 Duqkuette, Ovid D.           Harrison, Jared         Knudson, Brad         Mendoza, Patricia    Poyer, Thomas          Sliney, William
 Duran, Edward T.             Harvey, Evelyn          Koglin, Chris T.      Meza, Cecilia                                                       Wagnon, Douglas
                                                                                                 Quesada, Mary M.       Smith, Calvin
 Duran, Francisco             Harvey, Harrison        Kovatchev, Lubomir    Minitrez, Dennis     Rayas, Sandra          Smith, Harrison         Walker, Ross
 Duran, James                 Heard, Robert           Kvamme, Sandra K.     Miranda, Beatrice    Reano, Cheryl          Smith, Jessie           Waltrip, Wayne
 Dutchover, Martha            Heiland, Donald         Laate, Cletus         Moad, Sheena Marie   Redford, Shannon       Smith, Steven           Watchman, Charlotte
 Elcitty, Kathleen            Heiland, Robert         Lajueness, Louisa     Molina, Carlos       Redhouse, Oscar        Snow, Mike              Watson, Robertson
 Emote, Elsa                  Henio, Sampson          Lambert, Chad         Montano, Nick        Reed, Timothy          Snow, Phillip           Waunka, Sharon
 Enjady, Jamon                Hernandez, Don Javier   Lambert, Martin       Monte, Velva         Reese, Wallace         Sosa-Pereyra, Rogelio   Welch, Mitchell
 Enjady, Jarmon               Hernandez, Eric         Lander, Lynsias       Montoya, Andrew      Reyes, Ramon           Sotelo, Jose            Whipple, Nelson
 Ensminger, Cody              Hernandez, Phillip      Lansford, Zachary     Montoya, Earl        Reynolds, Charles      Spatzier-Gilmor,        Whisenant, James
 Esitty, Derick               Hernandez, Rafael       Lasiloo, William      Montoya, Leonard     Rieden, Charles          Renee                 White, Charlie
 Espinosa, Tammy              Herrera, Christine      Lawrence, Karen K.    Moody, David         Rios, Avel             Spears, James           White, Juan
 Esquibel, Derrick            Herrera, David          Leekity, Darin        Moore, Brandon       Rios, Jose             Stevens, Eva            Williams, Derwin
 Esquibel, Leonard            Herrera, Joe            Leguigou, Emily       Moralez, Fidel       Rivera, Allen M.       Stone, Effie            Williams, Jerome
 Esquibel, Lucy               Herrera, Regina         Lenz, Stephan         Moreno, Elias        Rivera, Ben            Storey, Tod             Williams, Shawna
 Esquibel, Tanya              Herring, John E.        Livingston, Raymond   Morgan, Clinton      Rivero, Ismael         Swendah, Jobeth         Willie, Darrel
 Esquivel, Valentin           Hines, Samuel           Logan, Ian            Morgan, Virgil       Roanhorse, Lee Jr.     Taber, Teddy            Willmart, Joan
 Evans, Nicole                Hinojos, Lydia          Long, Andrew          Muller, Carlos       Roberts, Jarad         Tafoya, Maurice         Wilson, Basil
 Fairchild, Wiley             Hinshaw, Douglas        Lopez, Angela         Muller, Mercedes     Rodarte, Aaron         Tawney, Teresa          Wilson, Breann F.
 Ferreira, Karen              Hobb, Christine         Lopez, Isidro A.      Munos-Serrano,       Rodarte, Fernando      Taylor, Jerico          Wilson, Ernest
 Flores, Daniel               Hobb, Ray               Lopez, Mark             Martin             Rodriguez, Patricia    Tellez, Martin          Wilson, Michael
 Flores, Roland               Hobb, Shafawntyra       Lopez-Ruiz, Jose      Munoz, Arturo        Rodriguez, Robert      Tenorio, Christopher    Woodrich, Phillip
 Foreman, Scott               Hollowell, Rhonda       Lovato, Halena        Munoz, James F.      Rodriguez, Stanley     Tenorio, Matthew        Wu, Xuming
 Foust, Ralph                 Hood, Elsie             Lovato, Mike          Munoz, Robert        Romero, Adam           Terrell, Jared          Wynne, Arthur
 Franco, Nicholas             Hooper, John            Lovato, Stephanie     Munson, Erick        Romero, Anastacio      Thomason, Joe Henry     Yazzie, Benjamin
 Franklin, Janine             Hoover, Deborah         Lucero, Benjamin      Myers, Chandler      Romero, Estella        Thomson, Celeste        Yazzie, Mary
 Frohlich, Dwayne             Houston, Stephanie      Lucero, Danny         Nabahe, Tommy        Romero, Herman A.      Thornhill, Damion       Yellowhair, Amos
 Fuller, Rena                 Howard, John            Lucero, Frederick     Naranjo, Edward      Romero, Kenneth        Toledo, Cestino         Young, Nkosi
 Gabaldon, James              Howell, Wilton          Lucero, Joey          Naranjo, Jeremy      Ronayne, John          Toledo, Diane M.        Youngman, James
 Galindo, Ignacio             Hull, Billy             Lucero, Steve         Nasdahl, Richard     Roper, Joseph          Tolth, Clarita          Zamora, Annette
 Gallegos, Brian              Hull, Dusty             Lucero, Wendy         Navarette, Rey       Rosas, Justo           Tolth, Timothy          Zavala, Javier
 Gallegos, Eric               Hunner, Leigh           Lujan, Fred           Nero, Clement M.     Roybal, Danny Paul     Toya, Irvin             Zellers, Allison
 Gallegos, James, Fred        Hurtado, Ceasar         Luna, Severo          Newood, Anthony      Roybal, Ronald         Tozcano-Gomez,
 Gallegos, Joseph             Ibuado, Juan            Machado, Donna        Nez, Johnathan       Roybal, Xavier           Benjamin
 Gallegos, Martin             Irwin, Kyle             Madero, Debbie        Nieto, Pablo         Russell, Theresa       Trotter, Brent
 Gallegos, Marvin             Jack, Earl              Madrid, Julian        Nolasco-Marquez,     Rutledge, Randy        Trujillo, Andrea
 Gallegos, Rocchina           Jackson, James E.       Maes, Elizabeth         Rogelio            Sage, Bill             Trujillo, Andrew
 Gallo, Luciano               Jackson, Jim            Maes, Joe             Norris, Nathan       Sagustama, Alexander   Trujillo, Bonnie
 Ganadonegro, Alfred          Jacquez, Isabel         Manning, Eric         Ocana, Donald        Salcido, Heraclio      Trujillo, Crystal                 — Source:
 Garcia, Bobby                James, Alva             Mapula, Noemi         Olguin, Sam          Salgado, Anita         Trujillo, Daniel                State Traffic
 Garcia, Davion               James, Timothy          Marano, Tiffani       Ore, Chris           Salt, Julius           Trujillo, Dennis               Safety Bureau
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SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002                                                                                                                                                                                27




             Solutions Demand Involvement
          NEW MEXICO CAN TAKE STEPS TO STOP THE SACRIFICE OF LIVES
                  AND MONEY TO DRUNKEN DRIVING PROBLEM
       New Mexicans were heartbroken when                                                                                                              ■ Why are so few bars and restaurants

   Melanie Cravens and her three young                                                                                                              cited for serving intoxicated people?
   daughters were killed by a drunken driver                                                                                                           ■ Why is the conviction rate for DWI
   just west of Albuquerque on Christmas Eve                                                                                                        offenders down?
   1992.                                                                                                                                               ■ Why are repeat drunken drivers per-
       Then they got mad.                                                                                                                           mitted to plead guilty to lesser offenses?
       New Mexicans demanded action to com-                                                                                                            ■ Why do so few juvenile DWI offend-
   bat the state’s DWI problem — and they got
                                                                                                                                                    ers end up with convictions on their dri-
   it.
                                                                                                                                                    ving records?
       Lawmakers lowered the legal blood-alco-
                                                                                                                                                       ■ Why is administrative license revoca-
   hol limit, toughened penalties for drunken
   driving and set aside millions of dollars to                                                                                                     tion for drunken drivers increasingly fail-
   fund local anti-DWI efforts.                                                                                                                     ing?
       The state also began widespread use of                                                                                                          Many of these questions have been
   sobriety checkpoints and passed a “zero tol-                                                                                                     answered in this special report. Changes
   erance” law that strips minors of their licens-                                                                                                  can be made to better combat DWI.
   es when they are caught drinking and dri-                                                                                                           Some steps are being taken to re-ener-
   ving.                                                                                                                                            gize New Mexicans in the battle against
       DWI arrests soared, the number of alco-                                                                                                      DWI.
   hol-related crashes dropped and fewer peo-                                                                                                          State Police say they are encouraging
   ple died in drunken driving wrecks.                                                                                                              the creation of local anti-DWI groups.
       Then New Mexico fell asleep at the wheel.                                                                                                       State and federal highway agencies are
       DWI arrests have dropped, conviction                                                                                  MIKE STEWART/JOURNAL   organizing a statewide traffic safety sum-
   rates are down, alcohol-related crashes are       CALL FOR CHANGE: Four crosses mark the spot on Interstate 40 where Melanie                     mit Tuesday through Thursday in Albu-
   on the rise and the number of dead is inch-       Cravens and her three young daughters were killed by a drunken driver on Christ-               querque in part to try to get New Mexi-
   ing back up.                                      mas Eve 1992. The crash resulted in several changes to New Mexico’s DWI laws.                  cans refocused on the problem.
       Two of the most valuable tools in combat-                                                                                                       The state this year enacted a law requir-
   ing drunken driving — fear of arrest and                                                                                                         ing ignition interlocks for all repeat DWI
   swift and sure punishment — have been                                                                                                            offenders. The locks disable vehicles of
   weakened.                                                 COMMENTARY                             sure the records get before the court.
                                                                                                       ■ Demand increased enforcement of
                                                                                                                                                    intoxicated drivers.
       And the result is predictable: Every couple                                                                                                     Of course, at the root of the state’s DWI
   of days, another life in New Mexico is sacri-
                                                                                                    the zero-tolerance law for minors.
                                                     deaths of Cravens and her daughters.              ■ Demand the juvenile justice system         problem is its alcohol-abuse problem.
   ficed to drunk driving:
                                                        Here’s what the experts say we need to      hold DWI offenders accountable and pro-            New Mexico’s death rate for alcohol-
     ■    A mother of four training to be a doc-
                                                     do:                                            vide education and treatment.                   related diseases and injuries is among the
   tor.
                                                        ■ Demand that local and state officials        DWI is a New Mexico problem, but             highest in the nation.
     ■ A man who spent most of his life

   coaching and educating youngsters.                establish goals for law enforcement in the     many of the solutions are local.                   Experts say we need to change our atti-
     ■ A high school senior planning to
                                                     fight against DWI and that they support           You have a right under the state Inspec-     tudes and behavior when it comes to alco-
   attend an elite university.                       those goals. For example, officials could      tion of Public Records Act to review DWI        hol.
     ■ A veteran jockey and horse trainer.
                                                     set a goal of 10 percent more drunken dri-     arrest and court records in your commu-            It is no more acceptable for a casual
     As one billboard says, “DWI Kills Our           ving arrests this year.                        nity. You have a right to watch prosecu-        drinker to drive drunk than it is for an
   Families.”                                           ■ Demand high-visibility law enforce-       tors and judges in courtrooms.                  alcoholic who has been repeatedly arrest-
     Then there is the yearly financial cost of      ment such as sobriety checkpoints and             You can check a person’s driving record      ed for DWI. Two-thirds of all alcohol-relat-
   DWI — more than $500 for every man,               saturation patrols. Alamogordo police, for     at the state Motor Vehicle Division, but        ed crashes are caused by drivers who
   woman and child in this state. It is a stun-      example, run about two checkpoints a           the information is not available on the         have never been arrested for drunken dri-
   ning price tag of $1.1 billion a year —           month.                                         Internet to the general public. It should       ving.
   about double what state government is                ■ Demand that alcohol sales laws be         be.                                                It also can’t be acceptable for people
   spending this year to run the University of       enforced. Few bars are ever cited for serv-       The state Highway and Transportation         under 21 to drink. Beginning drivers and
   New Mexico, New Mexico State Universi-            ing drunken drivers.                           Department has a database that can iden-        alcohol are a deadly mix. New Mexico’s
   ty and all other state universities and col-         ■ Demand that prosecutors and judges        tify the most dangerous roads in your           rate for alcohol-related teen fatalities on
   leges.                                            be effective and consistent in dealing with    town for alcohol-related crashes.               the highways is among the nation’s worst.
     But the wasted lives and wasted money           drunken drivers.                                  The most important question New Mex-            When it comes to the fight against DWI,
   needn’t be.                                          ■ Demand improvements in the quality        icans can ask is, “Why?”                        no one has been more active and visible
     There is no reason New Mexico has to            and accessibility of DWI records. Repeat          ■ Why do some law enforcement agen-          than Nadine Milford, Melanie Cravens’
   be one of the worst.                              offenders shouldn’t get off easy because       cies make so few DWI arrests?                   mother. She has been criticized as being
     As problems go, DWI isn’t that tough.           prosecutors “couldn’t find” records of past       ■ Why do some law enforcement agen-          heavy-handed, but she makes no excuses.
   New Mexico just needs to get back to              DWI convictions. In most cases, they are       cies not apply for money for sobriety              “It could be your family next,” she
   work, showing the resolve it did after the        there. All it takes is persistence in making   checkpoints and saturation patrols?             warns.
                                                                                                                                                                                 MK
                                                                                                                                                                      CY
                MK
          CY
28 SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2002




                life sentences                         by Leslie Linthicum


                       “All he was doing was trying to get home that night.”
                                                        MARCIA MARTINEZ, KEVIN’S MOTHER




                 KEVIN MARTINEZ, 17                his 9:30 p.m. curfew and was
                                                   only a few feet from his dri-
                 Dixon                             veway when he came over a
                                                   hill crest and was met by the
                 Killed by a drunken driver        lights of a pickup truck in his
                                                   lane.
                   The meticulous little boy —       Martinez jammed on his
                 the toddler who cleaned the       brakes and skidded for 32
                 tire treads of his Tonka truck    feet before his Toyota hit the
                 with a toothpick before he        pickup head on. The driver of
                 put it away — had grown into      the pickup, who told police he
                 a serious young man.              had been drinking at an
                   Kevin Martinez loved nice       uncle’s house that day and
                 clothes. Six of his favorite      whose blood-alcohol content
                 words were, “Grandma,             was more than twice the legal
                 there’s a sale at Dillards.”      limit, never hit the brakes.
                   He kept his friends at            Steve Martinez was called
                 Española Valley High School       out of the house by a neigh-
                 in line with an understanding     bor and held his only child as
                 ear and words of caution.         he died.
                   Martinez had been consid-         The driver, Rodney Arel-
                 ering a career in auto            lano of Chamisal, was sen-
                 mechanics after he graduated      tenced to six years in prison
                 in December, but then the 17-     and served three years
                 year-old became a little more     before he was paroled.
                 ambitious about his future.         The acceptance letter from
                 He sent an application to the     UC-Berkeley came to the
                 University of California at       Martinez house that spring.
                 Berkeley.                         “Calling and telling them he
                   “Kevs,” as his family and       had been killed was one of
                 friends called him, doted on      the hardest things we’ve
                 the white Toyota Tercel he        done,” Marcia Martinez said.
                 received for his 16th birth-        She tells convicted drunken
                 day. Like his toy trucks when     drivers about Kevin at victim
                 he was a kid, he kept it clean.   impact panels and hopes the
                   Martinez had gone to work       story of his short life and
                 at his part-time job at the       photographs of his violent
                 Pojoaque Pueblo hardware          death will influence them the
                 store on Sept. 11, 1994. After    next time they are in the posi-
                 work he had picked up his         tion to drive drunk.
                 girlfriend and taken her to         “My whole world was taken       ONLY SON: Kevin Martinez with the car his parents
                 the movies in Española. Mar-      and turned upside down,”          gave him for his 16th birthday.
                 tinez was headed home to          Marcia Martinez says. “I
                 Dixon a good half hour before     have nothing else.”
                MK
          CY

								
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