DWI Man Had 9 Previous Drunk Driving Arrests – and a Valid License!

9-previous-drunk-driving-arrests-angry-manIt’s surprising enough when you find that the man you’ve arrested for Driving While Intoxicated is being charged for the tenth time. What’s astonishing is that the man in question had a valid New Mexico driver’s license despite those 9 previous drunk driving arrests.

What’s more, the man, Randall Pruitt, never had a license revoked in all his years of drunk driving.

The most recent arrest happened last month in Clovis, New Mexico. But the most telling part of this case is the fact that, for an earlier offense, Pruitt was ordered to have an ignition interlock installed in his vehicle for life.

An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

A Lifetime Ignition Interlock – Not Really for Life

There was no interlock on the vehicle when Pruitt was arrested last month. As it turns out, in New Mexico an offender can petition to have a lifetime-ordered interlock device removed after 5 years.

The intention of this leniency is to give an offender who has turned around another chance. But it backfired here.

It’s important to remember that an ignition interlock is not like other forms of punishment. Like imprisonment, it prevents a person from committing a crime that could harm others. However, unlike prison, it does not restrict the freedom of offenders in any real way. It allows them to go to work, attend school, pick up children at school, shop for groceries, and do whatever else it takes to lead a normal life. All it necessitates is a few simple breath tests while driving.

Moreover, an interlock device is not a cost burden on the state – the offender picks up the tab for the device and its monitoring.

Making Good Ignition interlock Laws Better

What’s surprising about all this is that New Mexico has a pretty good ignition interlock law, mandating the device for all drunk driving convictions. In general, the state has become very tough on drunk drivers.

However, it’s clear that there are ways in which offenders with previous drunk driving arrests can fall through the cracks. Pleading guilty to lesser charges and failing to install the interlock that is required come to mind. The state does not also have compliance-based removal (not removing the device until a certain number of months have passed with no failed tests).

Until drunk driving laws are not only passed but enforced, there will be multiple DWI offenders – maybe even 10-time offenders – on New Mexico’s roads.