Bernalillo County New Mexico Implements New DWI Program

With years of experience with DWI cases the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court has been able to develop profiles of drunk drivers and to identify first-time DWI offenders who are most likely to drink and drive again. That profiling has lead to a new program designed to address high-risk offenders.

The Traffic Safety Bureau of the New Mexico Transportation Department has given the Metropolitan Court a $750,000 grant to expand the efforts of an existing Ignition Interlock program. The special unit will install ignition interlocks for and supervise probation of about 1500 DWI defendants a year who are deemed potential repeat offenders after their first DWI offense. The program is the first of its kind in New Mexico and it was developed by the Metropolitan Court staff.

DWI Offenders will be required to enter the new program after a number of criteria have been considered. These include high blood alcohol levels, prior arrest records, alcohol or drug history, as well as criminal background.

Currently, those convicted of a first-time DWI offense receive unsupervised probation and they must complete an alcohol counseling course and attend a victim’s impact panel. With the additional funding, probation officers can ensure that offenders complete the conditions of their sentence and they can initiate quick action when a probation
violation occurs.

The pilot program became operational at the end of August and it will run for two years.

Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court Chief Judge Judith Nakamura says, "We are convinced we can improve community safety this way."

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