In New Mexico, A DWI Checkpoint That Is Also a DWI Memorial

It was, in its way, as appropriate as a memorial service. In Santa Fe recently, police set up a DWI checkpoint at a street corner in honor of two teenage girls. The girls had been killed by a drunk driver at that exact spot five years ago.

A DWI Checkpoint Served as a Memorial to Two New Mexico VictimsOne of the policemen who stopped drivers to look for signs of impairment told the stories of the girls to the people in the car, as a way of bringing home the impact of drunk driving.

In 2010 Deshauna and Del Lynn Peshlakai, 17 and 19, were in town for a basketball tournament when they were killed by James Ruiz, who was driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.22, almost three times the legal limit.  Ruiz had five DWI arrests behind him, and was out on bond for the most recent one when the crash occurred at the intersection of Cerrilos and Cristo’s Road.

For years friends and relatives of drunk driving victims have made the sites of DWI deaths into memorials, decorating the area with flowers, mementoes, and plaques. A checkpoint is a very different approach, though. Rather than just remind passersby of the lethal effects of drunk driving, it actually takes drunk drivers off the road (four arrests were made during the five-hour checkpoint).

DWI-MemorialThink of it – if four drunk drivers passed through the intersection of Cerrilos and Cristo’s Road that night, then there are probably four or so there every night. It just happens that these four were caught. But there will be other nights, and other intersections, and police will never catch them all.

Perhaps this memorial checkpoint fostered a bit of awareness of this sad story, and some of the people drove away with the realization that drunk driving is a  preventable crime. If so, job well done.