Recently-Passed Santa Fe DWI Law May Mean Saying Adios to Your Car after a Third Conviction
By: Mike Stetzer
Get convicted of DUI for a third time in Santa Fe, New Mexico and your car may be sold at a police auction! City Councilor Patti Bushee helped enact a new Santa FE DWI law which allows local police to seize and sell the vehicle of any person convicted of DWI for a third time or any person caught drunk driving on a suspended license.
Bushee has described the new Santa Fe New Mexico DWI law as "the ultimate hammer" against repeat offenders in the city who have serious problems with drinking and driving.
The ordinance doesn't just challenge repeat offenders but also targets people facing first-time DWI charges. Santa Fe police may immobilize a vehicle for up to six months if the charged person does not agree to install an ignition interlock on his or her car.
This particular aspect of the ordinance raises concerns with at least one member of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico. Executive Director Peter Simonson is unsure whether vehicle seizure and immobilization should apply to people who are merely facing their first DUI charge and have not yet been convicted.
The new ordinance does allow first-time DWI suspects to have an immediate administrative hearing in which they could contest the probable cause behind their arrest and vehicle seizure. Simonson feels that a hearing officer may not be qualified to determine probable cause.
Simonson has said that the ACLU of New Mexico will see how this Santa Fe DWI law is enacted and then determine whether to pose a legal challenge. Santa Fe police will set up the program in the next few weeks and are not sure when it will officially get started.
As for parents who may be wondering what will happen if their child is charged with a Santa Fe DWI while operating a vehicle they own, the new ordinance establishes specific criteria.
According to the new law, the owner will be allowed to retrieve the car following a first-time DWI charge and may choose immobilization for up to 30 days after a second offense involving his or her child. A third DWI offense not involving the owner could result in forfeiture of the vehicle and its sale at auction.
The Santa Fe City Council says it hopes this ordinance is adopted in a similar fashion throughout New Mexico and eventually becomes a part of the DWI laws in the state.
Regardless of what some people may think about its penalties for people charged with DWI for the first time but not yet convicted, the enactment of this new Santa Fe DWI law reveals how serious DUI enforcement truly is on local and statewide levels in addition to national programs and organizations.
DUI penalties are constantly being bolstered to further get the message across to people that if they choose to drink and drive, the costs can be severe in all aspects of their lives.