Of all the deaths that occur in this county each year, traffic related fatalities top the list. Of those fatalities, alcohol was a factor in a majority of the crashes. New Mexico, per capita, has one of the highest alcohol related fatalities rates every year. Driving while intoxicated or DWI causes a tremendous epidemic in New Mexico because of the legal aspects that surround it, lack of treatment programs, and because of the cultural approach to drinking and driving. Legally, the lack of proper legislation, length of punishment and sentencing, and consequences for the offender's actions has all lead to this problem. Also, how can anymore change a problem if they are not allowing adequate treatment options? On the cultural end, lack of education and cultural and peer acceptable have played large parts in this situations. .
Usually, one of the things at the heart of any controversial issue is the legal aspect of it. Legally, driving while intoxicated is a crime, but does the justice system really treat is as one. This year in Hobbs, New Mexico, Leandro Mike Reyna was arrested on his 16th DWI charge. While Reyna was being booked, an officer found Reyna had a string of fifteen prior DWI arrests that spanned over a thirty-three year period. Bob Schwartz, Gov. Bill Richardson's senior counselor on crime and policy was quoted saying, "There's no way in this guy should be our there." If the New Mexico court system can let this happen, what kind of justice is that? Because of the legal aspects in New Mexico, DWI has become an epidemic.
Proper legislation can put a damper in DWI cases but the lack of it can also strongly enable it. It is true that our legislature has passed many bills as of the last session. Nevertheless, are these bills actually helpful or are they just trying to make the government look good. What this state needs is the passage of legislation that imposes more severe penalties of those convicted of multiple DWI offenses.