ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – David Serna is a well-known defense attorney. He made headlines years ago when he represented former Albuquerque Police Officer Levi Chavez, acquitted of killing his wife.
But in January, he was at the center of a DWI investigation when an Albuquerque police officer working overtime at the Whole Foods on Carlisle noticed Serna appeared drunk before getting in his Mini Cooper. So, he ordered him an Uber, but Serna came back for his car.
“Forty-two minutes passed before Mr. Serna was investigated,” said Serna’s attorney Thomas Clear.
Monday in court, Serna’s attorney argued that from the time the officer stopped his car to the moment a DWI officer showed up to do tests was unconstitutional. He also put both officers on the spot.
“You then didn’t have probable cause to arrest him, did you?” asked Clear, the officer responded, “Yes.” Clear then asked the second officer the same question. He also replied, “yes.”
The first officer said his breath test machine was expired and that’s why he called for another officer’s help—and the state defended the lapse in time. “The length of detention, in this case, was caused by the fact that there were no DWI officers available,” said prosecutor Guinevere Ice.
In the end, Judge Geraldine Rivera ruled in Serna’s favor. “A 42-minute delay was longer than it needed to be and it did constitute a constitutional violation of the defendant’s rights,” said Judge Geraldine Rivera.
The judge went on to say the first officer that stopped Serna should have at least done initial tests on him before a breath test could be provided at the scene. At the end of the hearing, she said she still couldn’t understand why the officer didn’t do it.
The state was forced to drop the charges because of the judge’s ruling to suppress the evidence in the case.