NEW MEXICO (KRQE) –  Wednesday, state lawmakers discussed alcohol-related issues in New Mexico. A main focus as usual was drinking and driving. According to the state’s Department of Health – New Mexico continues to have the highest alcohol related death rate in the country. 

Senator Joseph Cervantes shared how the DWI problem hits close to home for him. “I have lost a girlfriend in graduate school to a drunk driver, I’ve lost my supervisor at the law firm, supervising attorney to a drunk driver, I’ve lost my college roommate to a drunk driver. So I’m determined not to become numb to these problems, the things that ail us,” he shared. 

The committee on Courts, Corrections and Justice listened as the health department, state police and metro court officials discussed what could be done to curb the alcohol-related health problems, alcohol-fueled violence and DWI’s in New Mexico. Some suggestions included lowering the legal blood alcohol limit for driving. Utah recently lowered its legal limit from .08 to .05. 

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Senator Cervantes also expressed disappointment in the number of DWI cases that get dismissed and thinks recent changes in liquor laws may be backfiring. “In fact, arguably what we’ve done in the last five years has made alcohol more accessible, more prevalent, we’ve increased the hours that it can be sold, the days it can be sold, we’ve increased the licenses that are available to people and I supported those things, I voted for those things,” Cervantes said.

State Representative Antonio Maestas suggested looking into the alcohol tax policy – which he says hasn’t been touched in decades. He’s also interested in doing a deep dive into liquor sales specifically at convenience stores and gas stations.

Lawmakers also asked a state police lieutenant about his experiences on the roads. The lieutenant told them a story about catching a drunk driver with a blood alcohol content of .36 which is four and half times the legal limit in New Mexico.