The number of calls to New Mexico's DrunkBuster hot line has increased dramatically from last year, and so has the number of drunken-driving arrests, reports the Sante Fe New Mexican. The hot line, which motorists can reach by punching the pound sign and three digits – #394 – into a cell phone, was set up in December 2005 as a way the public could help police deal with the state's chronic DWI problem. “There's nothing better for the morale of a New Mexican than calling in a drunk driver and watching the arrest,” state DWI “czar” Rachel O'Connor said. “New Mexicans these days are becoming the enforcers.”
But while state Department of Public Safety spokesman Peter Olson said authorities appreciate most DrunkBuster calls, not all of them are helpful to police. “People are calling for driving directions, to report noisy neighbors, weed ordinance violations, child support delinquencies, too many potholes in the road or to report stray dogs,” Olson said. While the numbers of calls and arrests have increased, Olson said the arrests this year – 73 for nearly 5,500 calls – have been vastly underreported because 60 percent of the calls have come from Albuquerque, and the Albuquerque Police Department has not reported its DrunkBuster arrests. Last year, there were 36 arrests and 2,579 calls.