New Mexico has a DWI problem, and when a drunk driver is arrested with a kid in the car they are hit with a third-degree felony. However, a state lawmaker argues that the third-degree felony charge doesn’t always stick, so he wants to add a misdemeanor charge instead.
We’ve seen countless times where people have crashed their cars or injured others while drunk and with kids in the car. A state senator says his bill would build a case against those people.
“Right now without having this law in effect, when police arrest someone with a child in the car, they have no other option to also charge them with a third-degree child endangerment felony,” said Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, (D) Albuquerque. “Now sometimes, that’s going to be appropriate depending on what’s going on, but officers and prosecutors don’t have any other choices right now, and what this bill seeks to do is have the appropriate choice based upon whatever situation they come across.”
Sen. Ivey-Soto is sponsoring Senate Bill 517, which would add another DWI law saying if someone is driving drunk with a minor in the car, then they will get hit with a misdemeanor charge on top of their DWI charge.
When KRQE News 13 asked why he didn’t make this a felony crime, Sen. Ivey-Soto said courts or police could still decide if they want to tag on that third-degree felony.
Senate Republicans think it should just be a felony.
“It’s bad enough when someone is driving intoxicated on our roads, but when you have your children in the car, that’s definitely abuse in my opinion, but the court doesn’t always get that charge to stick,” said Sen. Craig Brandt, (R) Rio Rancho.
According to the bill’s fiscal impact report, the Department of Public Safety says the new bill would not help combat DWIs or child abuse.
It already passed one committee and now faces the Senate Judiciary.
The bill does not go into detail about if you have multiple convictions for DWI with a child, that it would automatically become a felony.