New Mexico Drunk Driver Thanks Arresting Officer

What do you say to a drunk driver who crashes his car into a rock wall after seven shots of liquor, and then thanks the officer who arrests him?

Maybe, “It’s about time.”

Raymond Martinez of Santa Fe expressed gratitude for his arrest, saying he appreciated what the officer was doing for him that night near Los Alamos. The officer’s body camera recorded the discussion, which included Martinez’s realization that he and his girlfriend could have died in the crash.

Sometimes arrest is the best thing that can happen to a drunk driver. Statistics show that most people who drive under the influence do so many times before they’re caught. Some have disdain for the law, but a good number have serious alcohol problems that need to be addressed. They drive under the influence because for the same reason that they work, play, socialize and sleep under the influence.

The arrest can be a wake-up call, but what follows is crucial. Punishments are of limited value in cases like this. Imprisonment will take a drunk driver off the roads for a time, but that’s an expensive proposition for both the offender and society. A more practical measure is an ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

And of course, supervision and treatment are necessary if we really care about dealing with repeat and high-BAC (blood alcohol concentration) drunk driving offenders. The Michigan sobriety court system, which combines an ignition interlock with treatment and court supervision, has a remarkably high success rate.

So we’re glad that an officer got thanked for making an arrest that might well change a life for the better. It’s about time he got some thanks. And we wish both offender and officer the best of luck.