NM Panel Rejects Bills To Toughen DWI Penalties

Jan 25, 2013

A legislative committee has rejected legislation backed by Gov. Susana Martinez to toughen New Mexico's penalties on repeat drunken drivers.

One of the bills supported by the Republican governor but rejected by the Democratic-led House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee would have increased prison time for fourth and subsequent DWI convictions.

The second bill would have effectively required DWI convictions to figure in the determination on whether a defendant is an habitual offender.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, opponents said during Thursday's hearing that toughening penalties would add costs for the court system and prisons.

State Police Chief Robert Shilling supported the bills. He told the committee that repeat offenders aren't getting the message that New Mexico won't tolerate drunken driving.

Similar bills have failed at the Legislature before.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.