In New Mexico: Drive Hammered, Get Nailed
The New York Times reported today that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will be announcing a campaign to change the laws of 49 states to require that first-time DUI offenders must install an ignition interlock on their cars. Guess who was leading the way in the one state to already require such devices on offenders' vehicles? That's right, Governor Bill Richardson and New Mexico.
Last year New Mexico became the first to make them mandatory after a first offense. With that tactic and others, the state saw an 11.3 percent drop in alcohol-related fatalities last year.
“It is an integral part of our success,” said Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who thinks others should follow his state’s lead.
Even the Century Council, a trade association of liquor distillers, says it favors the New Mexico approach for first offenders, but only those caught with blood-alcohol levels far above the legal threshold.
New Mexico is also in the forefront of new technologies designed to keep drunks from driving.
A New Mexico company, TruTouch Technologies, is modifying a technique developed for measuring blood chemistry in diabetics and using it to measure alcohol instead. The appliance shines a light through the skin on the forearm and analyzes what bounces back.
Future devices may read alcohol content when a driver’s palm touches the steering wheel or the gear shift lever, said Jim McNally, the chief executive of TruTouch.
It's never paid to drink and drive, but Bill Richardson has made it safer for New Mexicans on the road, by hindering those who would attempt to do so.
The Governor pointed to bold actions undertaken during his administration on DWI, including requiring all DWI offenders to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles; increasing the number of DWI Super Blitzes from five to eight; the Five Counties Program, which, thanks to assistance from NHTSA, specialized DWI officers have been hired in the five New Mexico counties where DWI has historically been the deadliest; and the statewide media campaign launched to educate and inform New Mexicans about the dangers and risks of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
In New Mexico, if you've had too much to drink, you'd better think twice before getting behind the wheel. If you drive hammered, you will get nailed.