Governor Susana Martinez joined law enforcement officials today to launch the Summer Safety Blast. The season-long initiative focuses on decreasing traffic deaths by enforcing DWI and seat belt laws. The safety blast includes State Police's new zero tolerance policy on unrestrained drivers and passengers, including children not properly restrained in a child safety seat. The initiative also includes the national Click It Or Ticket seatbelt campaign and New Mexico's 100 Days of Summer D.W.I. crackdown.
"We believe this is a great plan and by increasing awareness about not driving drunk and buckling up, we can save lives," said Governor Susana Martinez. "By combining these three initiatives, our chances of stopping or preventing dangerous driving behavior are vastly increased. This is an important message for people to understand: If you drive drunk, you will be caught. And if you don't buckle up your kids, you will pay a fine."
So far this year, 78 people have died in traffic crashes on New Mexico roads. Forty-five percent of those crashes were alcohol-related while at least 14 of those crash victims weren't wearing a seat belt.
As part of the Summer Safety Blast, law enforcement officers will conduct saturation patrols looking for anyone not wearing a seatbelt. That includes youngsters not properly restrained in a child safety seat. State Police has a new zero tolerance seatbelt policy, which means no warnings will be given. You break the law, you will be cited.
"Fastening your seat belt and making sure your kids are properly buckled up is such an easy thing to do, and it's the best way to protect yourself and your family in the event of a crash," said State Police Chief Robert Shilling.
Officers will also be out in force, stopping drunk drivers. This includes an increased number of D.W.I. checkpoints as well as saturation patrols.
"Keeping drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel is, of course, the best plan. But for those who choose to drink and drive, they can be assured that they will likely be caught thanks to the stepped up enforcement," said NMDOT Cabinet Secretary Tom Church.
Alcohol and the Law
If you are found guilty of DWI and it is your first conviction, you will pay stiff fines and court costs, and you could be sentenced to jail. You will also be ordered to treatment and to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. MVD has the authority to revoke your driver license. Subsequent DWI convictions will result in increased fines, more jail time and a longer license revocation. Any DWI conviction will remain on your driving record for 55 years.
Seat Belt Law
In New Mexico, all passengers in the front and back seats must be wearing a seat belt. All persons in a moving vehicle, in all positions, at all times, must be belted. New Mexico has a primary enforcement seat belt law and a primary child restraint enforcement law. This means that a vehicle can be stopped for other reasons, and if the driver or any passengers are not wearing their seat belts, or children are not properly restrained, the officer can issue seat belt or child restraint violations.
"Anything we can do to keep drunk drivers off our roads, cut down on crashes, and reduce traffic-related injuries and deaths on our roads is vital to the well-being of New Mexicans as well as those visiting our state," said Governor Martinez.