ESPANOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – A longtime New Mexico lawmaker was arrested on Friday for suspected drunk driving.
Police said Democratic state Sen. Richard Martinez admitted to drinking after rear-ending a car in Espanola. People in Espanola on Sunday seemed torn about their senator being slapped with these charges.
A driver told police Martinez rear-ended him at a red light at Paseo de Onate and Fairview Lane in Espanola late Friday night.
An officer said he could smell alcohol coming from Martinez’s car and that when he asked Martinez how much he’s had to drink, Martinez changed his story a few times. According to the incident report, he first said that he had one or two beers, next that it might have been more than that then claiming he, “actually drank three glasses of wine.” The incident report said the state senator failed his field sobriety tests and while being booked into jail, he told officers in part: “are you serious,” and refused to take a breath test.
“He’s a very down-to-earth person, very involved in the community, and my first concern that is he okay,” said Espanola local Julian Garcia.
People in Espanola Sunday were quick to defend the senator. “Sad that that’s happened because he’s only human like the rest of us,” said Espanola local Victor Valdez. “I hope he’s okay.”
However, people chiming in on social media aren’t happy, saying the lawmaker is not above the law. This comes on the heels of another lawmaker’s DWI scandal. Former state Republican Representative Monica Youngblood lost her re-election after her DWI conviction last year.
Martinez was charged with reckless driving and aggravated DWI. He and the people in the car he hit all had minor injuries.
Martinez’s Senate seat is up for re-election next year. University of New Mexico political science professor Gabe Sanchez said this arrest could end Martinez’s political career, even if he’s found not guilty.
“I think with the political environment these days, I think it’s difficult for anyone to weather, particularly in a state like this with the drunk driving issues that we’ve had,” said Sanchez in a phone interview.