New Mexico’s DWI Death Rate is Dropping. That’s No Accident.

new mexico's drunk driving deaths downA governor’s intentions are revealed by her actions. Clearly New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez intends to bring down the number of New Mexico’s drunk driving deaths. And it looks as if she’s been doing it.

A few months ago it was revealed that last year alcohol-related road deaths had plummeted 28 percent from the year before, and were at a 36-year-low.

Part of the reason is ENDWI, a dedicated program created by the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) to educate the public on the dangers of drunk driving.

Recently Governor Martinez has announced a new PSA in the series. The new ad shows the tragic consequences of drunk driving from the point of view of a surgeon who must try – and sometimes fails – to put back together the bodies of DWI victims.

Martinez is a tireless activist on the DWI front, and she is under no illusion that the ad alone will reduce New Mexico’s drunk driving deaths. A recent initiative involved pursuing and bringing to justice 100 DWI fugitives, increased saturation patrols, and tougher penalties for all drunk drivers.

What keeps some legislation from passing is the cost, which is understandable: prison in particular is an expensive proposition for the state. That is why New Mexico should make the most of its already-tough ignition interlock legislation, by ensuring compliance by offenders and judges. Unlike prison, ignition interlocks (car breathalyzers) prevent a drunk driver from reoffending and also place the cost where it belongs, on the offender. The same cannot be said of prison, which places a large burden on the taxpayer.

A drunk driving PSA, no matter how well done, is just a part of the solution. Strong legislation and good enforcement of DWI and ignition interlock laws is a much bigger piece of the anti-DWI puzzle. It looks as if the Governor of New Mexico is determined to solve the puzzle once and for all.