Chief Deputy Clerk To Plead Guilty To DWI

Las Cruces – Below is the statement read by Dona Ana County Chief Deputy Clerk Mario Jimenez to reporters at a press conference today.

My name is Mario Jimenez, and I am the chief deputy county clerk for Dona Ana County. As most of you know, I was pulled over last Thursday by a New Mexico State Police officer, who saw me driving without my headlights on. The officer asked whether I had been drinking that night, and I admitted that I had consumed a few drinks over the course of several hours. The officer conducted field-sobriety tests on me, and although he informed me that I did very well, he called for a backup unit to bring a field breathalyzer for me to take a breath test. I failed the breath test, and was arrested and booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center on charges of driving while intoxicated.

In the days since my arrest, I have spent a great deal of time considering the choices I made that night. I also have spoken to legal experts and have been assured that I could mount an aggressive defense against these charges, if I choose to do so. The decision, of course, is mine to make, and I have made the decision not to fight the charges but to plead guilty. Although I did not feel at the time that I was impaired or represented a danger to other motorists, the breathalyzer results indicate strongly that I was wrong, and I feel that it would be morally wrong to attempt to evade the consequences of my behavior.

Tomorrow morning, I will appear before Judge Oscar Frietze. I will apologize to him, I will plead guilty, and I will ask him to impose the full punishment normally accorded to first-time DWI offenders. Apologizing to him is just one step. I'd like to take this opportunity to also apologize most sincerely to the voters, residents and motorists of Do a Ana County. I also apologize to the Do a Ana County Board of Commissioners, to my boss, County Clerk Lynn Ellins, to the other elected officials of Do a Ana County, to my colleagues in the Do a Ana County Clerk's Office and to my coworkers throughout this organization. My choices last Thursday have tarnished an organization that I care deeply about, and I have let down people whom I respect greatly. And, of course, I apologize to my family and to my church.

In the immediate aftermath of my arrest, I notified Mr. Ellins and offered my resignation. A kind and caring man, Mr. Ellins told me he would rather that I stay on the job, but he also assured me that any further behavior of this severity would not be ignored or looked upon kindly. I fully understand his position, and I accept the challenge. I promise to redouble my efforts to show the people of Do a Ana County that I am a public servant who puts their interests first. I promise my colleagues that I will not lose focus on my duties, and I will use the terms of my punishment to motivate me to become a better person, worthy of the second chance I'm being afforded.

DWI is a serious problem in Do a Ana County, and I offer no excuse for my behavior. I only ask for the opportunity to learn from this experience and to carry from here on out a hard message borne of experience and tempered by humility.

In closing, I would like to thank the New Mexico State Police and the staff of the Do a Ana County Detention Center for their professionalism. I appreciate all the legal advice that I've been given, and I thank those who sought to help me to get out of this horrible mess that I've created. But in the final analysis, it is my mess, and I need to clean it up myself. I feel that admitting my guilt and accepting my punishment is the first step toward a larger goal of living up to the high expectations of the residents of Do a Ana County.

Thank you all for coming. I hope you'll understand that this has been an emotional week, and I would prefer not to take questions, but I have copies of my statement available for anyone who wishes to take one. Thank you once again.