DA: Ruling Guts Drug Law

New Mexico – A New Mexico court says drug sellers must know they are in drug-free school zones in order to face the more serious penalties for trafficking in those areas.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg says the Court of Appeals ruling issued last week effectively guts the law on drug-free school zones. But she says it will affect only a small number of cases.

Her office handled more than 30,000 cases last year and the school zone drug enhancement applied in only about 15.

State law says whoever knowingly sells drugs within 1,000 feet of a school on nonresidential property can be charged with a first-degree felony and face up to 18 years in prison. Otherwise, it's a second-degree felony and nine years.

The ruling could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.