New Mexico’s Answer to DUI’s

Farmington, New Mexico, is home to a neo-prohibitionist proposal that would tighten the punishment on convicted drunk drivers. The proposal, advocated by District Attorney Greg Tucker and state Sen. William Sharer, both of Farmington, would prohibit anyone convicted of drunken driving in New Mexico from buying liquor for five years. The prohibition would be enforced via a special designation on the driver’s license or ID card of anyone convicted of drunk driving, indicating that the holder of the ID is barred from buying liquor. The proposal would put the onus on all liquor vendors to check all liquor purchasers IDs, regardless of age. Penalties would apply to those caught not checking IDs or selling to those under the liquor-purchasing prohibition.

Neo-prohibitionist also has an advocate in Oregon. Sharon Schuman, writing in the Oregonian, argues that 20-year prison sentences for drunk drivers who cause death and injury is insufficient, and that drunken driving should be treated as an epidemic. The cure: zero tolerance, or a total removal of the states 0.08% BAC limit for drivers, dropping it to zero, as is done in some central European nations, and is also done with drivers under the age of 21. Schuman also advocated a measure requiring ignition interlocks, similar to the one that will take place in New Mexico, where every new car will require breathalyzer testers with ignition interlocks beginning in 2008, and all cars, used and new, will be required to install them in 2009. Such interlocks will not allow a driver to start the car if the BAC is over 0.08%. Schuman’s zero-tolerance proposal would set the upper threshold to 0.02% for such devices.