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DWI Deja Vu

You know how it works. You experience something and think to yourself, “This all seems so familiar.” Well, that is precisely the experience I had reading this article in the Santa Fe New Mexican:

Speaking to a crowd of cyclists gathered to ride in honor of a Santa Fe woman killed by a suspected drunken driver, Gov. Bill Richardson said Sunday that he plans to propose a package of anti-driving-while-intoxicated laws during the next legislative session.

“We’re going to go all out and snuff out one of the biggest scourges in New Mexico,” Richardson told about 300 riders gathered at St. John’s College.

Richardson said he wants tougher penalties for first-time DWI offenders and more thorough treatment programs. “That’s what this tragedy shows us we should do,” he said. “But the judiciary has got to do its job.”

“We need more court convictions and stiffer penalties,” he said.

When is he going to put some bite in that bark and start singling out the judges that are soft on DWI offenses instead of holding pointless summits? How many times can the Governor get away with with grabbing headlines by making these claims without delivering on them? Well, let’s count.

One time, he goes through the motions of by appointing a DWI czar. See this previous post to learn more about the whole czar appointment practice.

The second time, Governor Richardson pretends to be tough on DWI’s, he has his surrogates herald legislation that lacks stiffer penalties.

2005 DWI package: One thing is for certain. DWI will be an issue in the upcoming legislative session. Gov. Bill Richardson has made the fight against DWI a cornerstone of his administration.

Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said Wednesday that the governor, who held retreats with lawmakers, has received positive reception of his latest DWI and crime from legislators in both parties.

On Wednesday, Richardson’s DWI czar Rachel O’Connor appeared at the Corrections Oversight, Courts and Justice Committee to present four proposed bills from the governor’s office. They include requiring ignition interlocks on vehicles belonging to all convicted DWI offenders; lowering the legal blood-alcohol level limit for convicted DWI offenders; allowing local governments to impose tougher restrictions on liquor sales in areas of high alcohol abuse; and establishing a “Drunkbusters Hotline” to report drunk drivers.

Oh, and for number three, there is this claim in the Governor’s bio:

In just over two years, Governor Richardson has made good on his campaign promises to … make New Mexico safer by getting tough on DWI.

I wonder what he would consider a complete and total failure. After all the same line in his bio
also says:

Governor Richardson has made good on his campaign promises to improve education

But I digress. The bottomline is, as Senator Kent Cravens has pointed out in the past, that Governor Richardson continues his shameless practice of using the tragedy of New Mexico’s DWI problem to grab headlines (subscription), but when the time comes for decisive leadership he has failed us every year:

Gov. Bill Richardson used DWI victims to grab headlines but has done little to push through bills to improve the state’s drunken-driving laws, a key Senate sponsor charged Thursday.

“The governor rallied the troops, so to speak, at the beginning of this session, saying that DWI was his number one priority — and I can only believe at this point that that came from a poll that was run … before the session and his question was ‘what’s the popular issues and we’ll go that way,’ ” said Sen. Kent Cravens, R-Albuquerque.

This has got to stop.