Court Expands NM Authority On Reservations

New Mexico – The New Mexico Supreme Court has expanded the authority of state and local law enforcement officers to enter tribal lands to investigate crimes committed off reservations by American Indians.

The court's unanimous ruling upheld the drunken driving conviction of David Harrison, a member of the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Nation and Santa Ana Pueblo had submitted written arguments in the case, saying tribal sovereignty would be undermined if the DWI conviction was affirmed.

A San Juan County deputy sheriff stopped Harrison on tribal lands after allegedly seeing him speeding outside the Navajo reservation. The deputy had Harrison perform field sobriety tests and a breath test.

In an unanimous ruling Tuesday, the state Supreme Court allowed the use of that DWI evidence.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.