Gone are the days when politicians could survive a DWI conviction | Local News

State Representative Georgene Louis is out of step with the people she claims to serve. The same goes for the New Mexico Democratic Party due to its reaction to Louis’ recent legal troubles.

Santa Fe police arrested Louis for speeding on St. Francis Drive around 11:30 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday. The seriousness of the case against her quickly escalated.

sergeant. Heinz De Luca smelled alcohol on Louis. How many drinks had she had?

“Two-ish,” said Louis, a Democrat from Albuquerque.

His tally went up after De Luca inquired about the day’s total. Louis said she drank two glasses of beer as well as vodka and soda, the amount was never specified.

“Let me look you in the eye,” the sergeant said to Louis. He described them as watery or glassy.

Louis attempted a diversionary tactic.

“So, like, I haven’t slept much because, uh, I’m not trying to say anything, but, like, I’m a legislator, so we haven’t slept much,” said Louis. , his rambling statement punctuated with a laugh.

De Luca had an unbiased response: “To me, you’re just another citizen, another driver, on the road.”

“Totally, totally, totally. We just didn’t get much sleep,” Louis said.

She dragged out a sobriety test by regularly failing to follow the sergeant’s instructions. Louis often complained about the “crazy cold” temperature, which she said was 36 degrees.

After initially refusing to take an alcohol test, Louis changed his mind. Its level was 0.17%, more than double the presumed intoxication limit for drivers. Police arrested her on suspicion of aggravated drunk driving.

I asked the New Mexico Democratic Party if Louis should stay in office and if State President Jessica Velasquez thought Louis had tried to improperly influence a police officer.

“We do not comment on these types of ongoing legal processes, but we support Ms. Louis as she focuses on her family and her health,” party spokeswoman Miranda van Dijk wrote in an email.

“I also wanted to point out on the merits that the officers have publicly stated that Ms. Louis cooperated fully with law enforcement. There is no evidence that she attempted to use her position as a legislator to influence these proceedings.

Not true. Louis’ mention of his elected office was gratuitous.

A 44-year-old lawyer, Louis knew that the position she held was irrelevant to the police investigation. The only question was whether Louis was intoxicated and therefore a danger to pedestrians, other drivers and herself.

There is more to this story regarding Louis’ political office.

Most New Mexico legislators display a special license plate on their vehicles with their district number. Not Louis. She kept her legislative license plate inside her car, so that it could not be seen by the police.

She did it, it seems, because she didn’t have a valid car registration document. She was also unable to provide proof of car insurance.

If her alibi was that her eyes were watery or glassy from lack of sleep, she peppered him with statements about her heavy workload as a lawmaker. Louis’ drinking had occurred on Super Bowl Sunday, when lawmakers had more downtime than usual.

Louis’ conduct was similar to that of the representative at the time. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, who was arrested in 2018 at a DWI checkpoint.

Albuquerque PD smelled alcohol on Youngblood. The cop asked about Youngblood’s training before explaining what his sobriety test would entail. Youngblood told her she was a state representative, which had nothing to do with her level of education.

Democrats blasted Youngblood. They had good reasons. But now they’re excusing Louis’ similar tactics and falsely claiming she was a model of co-operation with the police.

De Luca and a second officer repeatedly asked Louis to remove his glasses. Louis refused, even though no one expected her to read the fine print. Police had to monitor his eye movements to assess his sobriety, a job made more difficult by Louis wearing glasses.

There was a time when a politician could survive a drunk driving conviction.

So-Rep. Mimi Stewart, now acting president of the state Senate, pleaded guilty the same day of her arrest to drunk driving. But that was in 1999, when a lawmaker turned outlaw could retain power.

Stewart, D-Albuquerque, had led the way in legislation to shut down liquor store ATMs — a symbolic strike against drunk driving. Once arrested herself, she decided to plead guilty quickly and issue a public apology to stay in office.

It’s another era. Voters ousted Youngblood in 2018 and Senator Richard Martinez, D-Ojo Caliente, in 2020 after seriously injuring two people while driving drunk.

Louis may resign from the Legislative Assembly or try his luck in a re-election campaign this year. The only difference is whether she leaves voluntarily or if the voters fire her.

Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and current affairs. Contact Milan Simonich at [email protected] or 505-986-3080.

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