MADD’s Court Monitoring Program enlists court monitors to observe and document what happens in the courtroom during impaired driving case proceedings. The program was created to ensure that impaired driving offenders are prosecuted and justice is achieved. Court monitoring is a tool proven to affect the adjudication process and is recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as an effective countermeasure to reduce impaired driving (1). Court monitors on the local scale can impact the handling of impaired driving cases by their mere presence in the court room.
Court monitoring is intended to enhance transparency and accountability within the criminal justice system and reduce the likelihood of repeat offenses. One way this goal is achieved is by sharing data and observations with law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, and the public to promote awareness of impaired driving and ensure accountability for all impaired driving offenders. To reduce future offenses, MADD® supports swift and unbiased treatment of all impaired driving cases.
The New Mexico Court Monitoring Program covers 8 counties: Bernalillo, Dona Ana, McKinley, Santa Fe, San Juan, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, and Valencia counties.
New Mexico State Report (reporting period: 1/1/2021 – 12/31/2021)
Case Disposition DUI
This report is designed to present observations and trends relative to the ten counties monitored and is not intended to be a statistical analysis.
Where disposition is known.
Pending Cases Monitored* | 1258 | 44% Adjudicated Cases Monitored | 1632 | 56% Total Cases Monitored in 2021 | 2891 *pending cases are cases waiting for a judgement
*Deferred Prosecution includes a version of informal probation; and upon certain completion of terms, the charge may be expunged from the defendant’s record. **An amended disposition means the charge was either amended to a lesser charge (such as Reckless Driving) or amended to a higher charge (less common) ***Bound Over” means the court has found probable cause to charge the defendant with a felony. Once this is done, the case essentially starts over at the Circuit Court level and stays there through sentencing.
By County Disposition Where disposition is known by county.
Bound Over to Court
Bernalillo Dona Ana Mckinley Rio Arriba Sandoval
San Juan Santa Fe Valencia
The graph above shows the disposition rates in each county for adjudicated cases monitored in 2021. Similar to previous years, San Juan County had the highest guilty conviction rate, followed by Rio Arriba County. In contrast, Santa Fe County had a large increase in dismissed cases compared to 2020, due to a policy enacted in the county to immediately dismiss DWI cases with the intent to refile upon collection of all discovery.
By Year Disposition
Where disposition is known.
Not Guilty Deferred Prosecution Dismissed
In 2020, there were 1,515 cases that were monitored and adjudicated. An increase of 117 cases were monitored and adjudicated in 2021 for a total of 1,632 cases . The main observation when comparing the disposition data from 2020 and 2021, is the decrease in dismissals in 2021. Data from 2020 represented the direct impact from the pandemic which included less DWI case filings, staffing vacancies, new court procedures, and low traffic enforcement. These were still factors in 2021, but to a lesser degree than 2020.
By Age Cases
Where age is known.
The age demographic of the monitored cases from 2021 show that over 64% of the individuals who were arrested for DWI were between the ages of 21-39. This reflects closely with the national average. It is important to note that age information is not available for all cases monitored. This data reflects approximately 50% of total cases monitored for 2021.
Key Findings & Observations
Increases in dismissals of misdemeanor DWI cases in many counties. Cases being pled down to “DWI 1st” despite not being “true firsts” and having an enhanced DWI charge. Waivers granted by the New Mexico Supreme Court to extend case timelines and suspend trials. Low volume of misdemeanor cases in DWI dockets. 2021 coincides with an unprecedent time for both court monitoring and the adjudication of misdemeanor DWI cases. The COVID-19 pandemic has further compounded difficulties in logistical processes, court administration, prosecutorial obstacles, and discovery-related issues cited in previous years. For this year’s findings, Court Monitors have observed: For this year’s report, Mothers Against Drunk Driving notes the at various COVID-related factors confound the reported trends for dismissals in many counties; among these factors include: staff shortages for both law enforcement agencies and prosecution that resulted in poor discovery transmission, unavailability of officers to attend to key proceedings, late filings, and existing backlog of cases. Being that the data is being published while the nation is still in the throes of a pandemic, it is difficult to identify and establish conclusively a more definitive basis for these trends. Such a rationale can only be offered once the pandemic’s effects on court operations and administration have subsided. Nevertheless, the pandemic has contributed to many complications in misdemeanor DWI prosecution. Mothers Against Drunk Driving® is concerned that the reduced filings of misdemeanor DWIs may lull New Mexicans into a false sense of security about the prevalence and persistence of DWIs during the pandemic. Additionally, MADD is concerned that the growing rate of impairment cases and the lack of vigor in prosecution will result in damage to trust and an undermining of confidence in the court system within the community. Given these trends, Mothers Against Drunk Driving reiterates its position: Fair and equitable high visibility law enforcement as the most effective method to stop drunk and impaired driving instances. Community mobilization to increase awareness and education of its citizens about the devastating consequences of drunk and impaired driving on our roads. Cases to be heard on their merits and not dismissed prematurely, which prevents the use of ignition interlocks. Compliance with statutory requirements, which stipulate the installation of ignition interlock devices in all vehicles driven by offenders. IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAS BEEN AFFECTED BY DRUNK OR
DRUG-IMPAIRED DRIVING, MADD IS HERE TO HELP. CALL OUR VICTIM/SURVIVOR 24-HOUR HELPLINE AT 877-MADD-HELP (877-623-3435).
(1) Richard, C. M., Magee, K., Bacon-Abdelmoteleb, P., & Brown, J. L. (2018, April). Countermeasures that work: A highway safety countermeasure guide for State Highway Safety Offices, Ninth edition (Report No. DOT HS 812 478). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Driving a vehicle while impaired is a dangerous crime, yet continues to happen across the United States. Each year, about 1 million individuals are arrested. What happens after those arrests depends on the criminal justice system. As a court monitor, MADD staff get the insider’s perspective on the judicial system while making a vital contribution to your local community. Their presence in court and the data they collect will help make sure our laws are upheld and the criminal justice system does what it is intended to do: Keep us safe. Court monitors achieve the work of MADD’s Court Monitoring Program by doing the following: Remind law enforcement that MADD wants to see their cases prosecuted to the fullest extend of the law
Track conviction rates and sanctions
Identify trends in offender age, gender, and blood alcohol concentration level
Notify judicial system of deficiencies
Promote public awareness and understanding of the dangers of impaired driving.
For more information about court monitoring efforts in your state, please visit madd.org/courts.
New Mexico State Office 3411 Candelaria Rd NE Suite B Albuquerque, NM 87107 Nm.firstname.lastname@example.orgPage 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6
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