The New Mexico neighborhood is looking for a change for DWI repeat offenders
Steven Casias, 59, has seven DWI arrests, the last one in March when he hit a concrete pillar.
And 42-year-old Jennifer Whitey, with seven DWI arrests, four of which happened in the past two years.
But if you look at the outcome of Whitey’s case, one of those charges was dismissed because the officer failed to appear in court.
“It’s obviously a problem,” said Lindsey Valdez, regional director of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving.
Valdez said it was cases like this one where there doesn’t seem to be any consequence that she thinks are sending a message.
“Overall, I think it shows that some people really aren’t afraid of the consequences if driving under alcohol doesn’t have any consequences.”
But how often does that happen?
“They are isolated, but they are not isolated enough. Let me put it this way, it is still a worrying endeavor,” said defense lawyer Ahmad Assed.
Assed said this particular problem of people falling through the cracks has been around for a while.
“We’ve been talking about this for decades and, to be honest, we’re still almost in the same position,” said Assed.
If you’re looking at the conviction conviction, your first DWI could put you behind bars for at least two days. An eight would be 10 years, but Assed says that doesn’t mean people spend all of their time in jail.
“The mandatory sentences can be enforced through an ankle ligament trial or house arrest rather than actually serving their Bernalillo County time at the MDC,” Assed said.
Which has resulted in those who have lost loved ones calling for change.
“It affects everyone. It’s hard growing up without a father,” said Jackie Copeline.
Copeline’s father was killed by a repeatedly drunk driver when he was seven. She recently started a petition calling for stricter enforcement and treatment of DWI.
“I don’t think DWI laws are being enforced. People get the minimum sentence and I don’t think that’s okay,” said Copeline.
Those KOB 4 spoke to must make treatment and education for people with multiple offenses key elements of the future.
“Often times you have a medical problem, you have an addiction, so in many ways there is no quick fix to the problem,” said Assed.
In 2019 there were nearly 3,000 (2,988) cases on the metro, but last year there were about a thousand fewer with nearly two thousand (1,929).