SANTA FE (KRQE) - With high price of gas across the state, you can imagine the temptation.
Why pay for your own fuel when you can have taxpayers foot the bill?
That's what Jerome Block Jr. was doing with his state-issued gas card, filling up personal vehicles in exchange for cash.
As KRQE News 13 reported two weeks ago, former DOT employee Daniel Glass is facing criminal charges for allegedly filling up five cars with several different state-issued PIN numbers, none of them state-owned.
James Chavez with New Mexico's Transportation Services Division says enough is enough.
"We're trying to strengthen up our rules," Chavez said. "Make the employees more accountable while at the same time trying to make sure we have all of the right safeguards in place."
One of the changes coming to all of the state's approximately 4,600 passenger vehicles in the coming months would take gas cards out of employee's wallets and put them in the cars themselves.
"One of the things we really need to make sure is you only have one fuel card in each vehicle," Chavez said. "Every user has a unique PIN or ID number [and] that PIN is not shared with anyone else."
Another change would make sure departments are adding logical caps on how much gas a card can buy and how often.
"If you're driving a Ford Focus, you can't put 50 gallons of gas in it," Chavez said. "If you do... we're notified and we investigate."
Any employee caught breaking those rules could lose driving privileges, lose their job or even face criminal charges.
Chavez says a new system to help implement those changes could be in place six months from now. That system will also allow the state to spot whether employees filling up are doing so at the cheapest possible gas station.
The state is also considering banning workers in state cars from using a cell phone while driving --- even with a hands-free device or wireless headset.
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John Smith with your forecast and Kim Vallez with your afternoon headlines.
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