DWI Patrol - New Year's Eve

I got to spend an evening as a passenger in a New Mexico State Police car with officer James Jenkins as he kept an eye out for DWI motorists. We made a few checks and stops, and got one young lade driving without insurance and although the front emblem and name plate on the car she was driving said "Honda" the plate on the back was registered to a Chevy truck...

Then Jenkins made this stop and sure enough, nabbed a drunk driver. I loathe drunk drivers - there is no excuse for it. I dislike people that say "Don't be too hard on 'em, after all, we've all done it at some point" wink-wink, nudge-nudge. My personalopinion is that anybody caught driving drunk should immediately lose their car. No exceptions. And then they should face felony charges of attempted murder. After all, it is illegal to wander around and randomly fire a gun, so why is it not a huge deal to randomly drive a 4,000 pound machine that could not only kill one person, but several?

There is a single, simple reason that we don't do anyhting about th drunk driving problem - the people that make the laws and the judges that handle the sentencing are ELECTED. They want to get re-elected, so they keep the laws and penalties light. There is an argument that seizing a drunk driver's car is undue hardship... what about the innocent family that gets annihilated and a little girl is the only survivor with no parents and siblings. What kind of hardship is that? How can that be considered acceptable?

New Mexico State Police officer James Jenkins administers a field sobriety test to Alfredo Hammitt on New Year's Eve near the intersection of Sixth Street and Logan Avenue in Gallup. Jenkins arrested Hammitt for drunk driving when he refused to complete the tests and also refused to take a breathalyzer test at the police headquarters. When Jenkins placed Hammitt in custody he discovered a can of beer inside of his jacket pocket. In addition to two other adults in the car, Hammitt was also driving with two young boys in the back, adding possible felony charges of child endangerment to the list of violations he is being arrested for.

This image - the little boy looking at the patrol car that Hammitt was placed in and looking bewildered - was the most upsetting of all. What type of person thinks it is acceptable to put two children of a car and drive around drunkenly? Hey, they are easy to replace... or maybe they don't really love their children?

Jenkins ended 2007 with a total of 159 DWI arrests for the year.

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