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Council votes to adopt traffic ordinance

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By Jennifer Garcia

  Two Public Hearings were held during the Dec. 16 County Council meeting. Eun Jung Kim, the owner of Origami Restaurant, located at 182 Central Park Avenue applied for a liquor license. The County adopted a code relating to traffic and vehicles, as well.

  The liquor license for Origami was approved by Councilors with minimal discussion. Councilor Nona Bowman moved to approve the license, which was seconded by Councilor Frances Berting. The motion passed 5-0, with Vice Chairman Robert Gibson abstaining.

  In addition, a motion was presented to Council asking that Councilors adopt Los Alamos Code Ordinance No. 02-099 an Ordinance Amending Chapter 38, Article V, Sections 38-292, 38-293 and 38-313, and Article VII, Section 38-415, of the Code relating to traffic and vehicles. According to county documents, this code amends sections of the county code pertaining to DWI, child passenger restraint and unlawful use of license. These amendments align county code with state motor vehicle law and in the case of the child restraint section, makes clear that the driver of a vehicle with passengers less than 18 years of age is responsible to ensure that each passenger is restrained by a seat belt or other child restraint device.

  The code states that it is unlawful for 1) A person who has an alcohol concentration of eight one-hundredths (0.08) or more in his blood or breath to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle within three hours of driving the vehicle within this county and the alcohol concentration results from alcohol consumed before or while driving the vehicle: 2) A person who has an alcohol concentration of four one hundredths (0.04) or more in his blood or breath to drive or be in actual physical control of a commercial vehicle within three hours of driving the vehicle within this county and the alcohol concentration results from alcohol consumed before or while driving the vehicle.

  Police Captain Kevin Purtymun was on hand to answer questions related to the code.  Gibson asked him if the ordinance matches the state statute exactly. “With the exception of the child restraint ordinance, it does,” Purtymun replied. Gibson then asked him to explain the first section of the ordinance. “I read it five times and don’t understand it,” Gibson said.

  “If we contact you within three hours of driving and we can prove that prior to stopping you, you had been drinking, it gives us a time frame to look at as where before, it was open-ended for the prosecution and the defendant from the time a person drove a vehicle to the time they were intoxicated,” Purtymun explained.

  “We were the first county in the state to lower the presumptive level from .1 to .08,” Councilor Ken Milder commented, “then the state followed that. I thought we could be more stringent within reason,” he continued.

  Berting said that the one thing that bothered her about the ordinance was that there was a lot of opportunity for probation and getting out of the situation. “I would like to see that these loopholes and opportunities for lax types of DWI penalties get fixed at the state level, then we can do the same thing,” she said. “That’s my major problem with this thing.”

  Despite her problems with the ordinance, she moved to adopt it, which got a second by Councilor Michael Wheeler. After voting, the motion passed 6-0.