New Mexico DWI Web Site Misses Many Cases

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New Mexico officials unveiled a new Web site Friday in which police, judges, journalists, and the public can look up the arrest and conviction records of drunken-driving offenders. However, the New Mexican newspaper in Santa Fe says that a spot check of the records of two notorious Santa Fe DWI offenders shows that the site, which cost the state $155,632 to set up, does not show complete histories of DWI offenders.

At a news conference, State Supreme Court Justice Petra Maes and Gov. Bill Richardson announced the new system, which has been online since April but not announced publicly. “Law enforcement can use (the Web site) to review a driver’s court history and determine the correct violation to charge a person suspected of DWI,” Maes said.

However the site skips over many cases that have been documented by state Motor Vehicle Division and police records. Examples: According to the MVD, Joe Leonard Rael of Santa Fe has been arrested on DWI charges 21 times between 1972 and 1999. At least 10 of those arrests resulted in conviction. But a search for Rael’s name on the new Web site shows only six arrests and only two convictions. John P. Chavez, awaiting trial in a highly publicized case last year in which he is charged with hitting a pedestrian and dragging the woman under his vehicle for several blocks, has 10 previous DWI arrests and at least seven convictions between 1982 and 1999, according to MVD records. However, the new Web site shows only two arrests, including the Plaza accident, and one conviction.


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