New Mexico’s DWI-related fatality toll declined from 219 to 193 last year, says the Albuquerque Tribune. The drop is the fourth-biggest since the state started tracking DWI statistics in 1979 and the largest in the last 10 years. Gov. Bill Richardson and state anti-DWI czar Rachel O’Connor claimed victory for their public education push and tougher DWI offender penalties. They pledged even tougher penalties and more treatment and education in coming years to force what has been a fluctuating trend into a constant downward spiral.
New Mexico has long topped lists of states with serious drunken-driving problems. Its reputation remains, although the state has dropped from top on the list to sixth, O’Connor said. If penalties toughen, treatment plans increase and education agendas sink in further in the state’s culture, she expects the state to move to eighth on the list of states with the most severe DWI problems.