ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A maintenance worker at the Albuquerque division of the Department of Transportation, who was arrested over the weekend for aggravated DWI , had three prior convictions before being hired in 1994.
Herbert Morgan, 59, admitted he drank a few beers after work on Friday afternoon but said he definitely was not drunk.
"I think I drank a six-pack," said Morgan. "That was it."
Morgan, who was not on call this weekend, responded to a call for crash cleanup anyway around midnight Saturday. Morgan drove in to work, hopped in a small street sweeper and drove 15 miles west of Albuquerque to the scene of the car wreck.
"I was not swerving," Morgan said. "I didn't hit nothing. When I was backing up, all I was clearing up debris that was on the road surface."
But an on-scene Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy said Morgan backed the sweeper into a patrol car. Deputies also said he failed field sobriety tests and blew a 0.16, twice the presumed level of intoxication. Morgan was arrested and booked into MDC on an aggravated DWI charge.
"The department obviously takes things like this very seriously," said Phil Gallegos, spokesman for NMDOT.
Gallegos said Morgan, a 17-year department employee, never caused any problems. But according to court records, this is not Morgan's first drunk driving offense. He pled guilty to DWI three times in the 80s. Morgan, whose job description includes driving state vehicles, was still hired at DOT in 1994.
"At the time we hired him, it wasn't an issue, and it hasn't been an issue for the 17 years he's been with the department," said Gallegos.
Before Saturday, Gallegos said Morgan's most recent DWI was six years before being hired.
"At a certain point when you've done your time and you've served your probation and it's been a certain number of years, it's deemed that you're rehabilitated," Gallegos said.
NMDOT is still investigating, but officials said driving drunk in a work vehicle is grounds for termination for any state employee. Morgan took personal leave today, but he will likely be suspended with pay while the state decides what to do with him, according to Gallegos.
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