Alibi V.25 No.27 • July 7-13, 2016 

News Feature

New Drinking Laws Revealed

Growlers, DWI and handling a traffic stop

New Mexico Capitol Building, the “Roundhouse”
New Mexico Capitol Building, the “Roundhouse”

More places to buy beer growlers and tougher repeat DWI sentences are among the new statewide rules that went into effect July 1. The laws were passed by the state Legislature during the February 2016 session. These two interesting laws both tighten, and loosen alcohol-related laws.

Get Growling

New Mexico likes its beer, especially its craft beers. In addition, the state is getting to be known for its many excellent microbreweries. According to the New Mexico Ale Trail, there are about 42 microbreweries across New Mexico. This new law makes it possible for licensed liquor stores across the state to sell and fill up carryout growlers from your favorite local brewery. Good news for beer folks who want to try out the many boutique beers being produced around the state in the comfort of their homes.

Bad Boozers

New Mexico tops the nation for DWI related deaths, accidents and other problems. Governor Susana Martinez recently announced the annual summer DWI blitz that includes increased check points, more saturation patrols with officers across statewide jurisdictions on the hunt for impaired drivers.

New DWI laws should give folks something to think about before getting behind the wheel buzzed. The new rules allow for drunk drivers who kill people to be sentenced the same as second degree murder. This brings the maximum penalty for vehicular homicide while intoxicated up from 6 years to 12 years for each person killed.

For those racking up multiple DWIs, it will now be a second degree felony for the eighth or subsequent drunk driving conviction. This will now carry a minimum of 10 years in prison with 12 years possible, with no chance of a suspended sentence.

What To Do?

Summertime brings more opportunities to enjoy a cold beer and other alcoholic drinks. Don’t risk hurting someone or yourself—call a friend, take a bus or call Uber.

But if you are driving, how should you behave during a law enforcement interaction? The American Civil Liberties Union makes its recommendations based on decades of cases interpreting the Constitution. The organization maintains that politely knowing and exercising your rights is the front line to protecting yourself legally and physically. Remember, regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, your rights are protected by the Constitution.

New Mexico tops the nation for DWI related deaths, accidents and other problems. Governor Susana Martinez recently announced the annual summer DWI blitz that includes increased check points, more saturation patrols with officers across statewide jurisdictions on the hunt for impaired drivers.

If you are pulled over, you must show your driver's license, registration and insurance if asked by a police officer to produce them. But you don't have to consent to any search of yourself or your car. If you're given a ticket, you should sign it; otherwise you can be arrested. If you disagree with the ticket, ask for your day in court. Also remember that, in practically any citizen/law enforcement interaction, the officer is just as wary of you as you are of them. You can promote a proactive result by remaining calm and forthright.

If you find yourself at one of the many sobriety roadblocks that pop up just around bar-closing time, remember that refusing to take a DWI test—be it blood, urine or breath—may result in a suspension of your driver’s license, and you’ll be arrested for a higher charge than if you’d complied. What if police have a warrant? A warrant means the police are going to enter your owned or rented property, this includes your car, then search and seize things—including you, possibly.

If police have a warrant, they may knock on the door, be professional and courteous, and explain there is a court order allowing a search. Or they may use force that includes paramilitary tactics and dozens of SWAT team members armed with guns and flashbang stun grenades. It is better to comply than to be shot.

With all that in mind, here’s a handy Weekly Alibi guide on What To Do If You’re Stopped By The Police:

• Be polite.

• Think carefully about your words, movement, body, language, and emotions.

• Remember, anything you say or do can be used against you.

• Keep your hands where the police can see them.

• Don’t run.

• Don’t touch any police officer.

• Don’t resist even if you believe you are innocent.

• Don’t complain on the scene or tell the police they’re wrong or that you’re going to file a complaint.

• Do not make any statements regarding the incident.

• Ask for a lawyer immediately upon your arrest.

• Remember officers’ badge and patrol car numbers.

• Write down everything you remember ASAP.

• Try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers.

• If you are injured by police, take photographs of the injuries as soon as possible, but make sure you seek medical assistance first.

• If you feel your rights have been violated, file a written complaint with the police department’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board, or call the American Civil Liberties Union hotline, 1-877-6-PROFILE or by reaching out to their New Mexico affiliate at 505-266-5915.