N.M. drops out of DWI top 10

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State drops out of ranking for DWI fatalities

By Associated Press

SANTA FE —  New Mexico, which once had the worst DWI problem in the nation, is now out of the top-10 in all three national rankings. The state has dropped out of the top-10 ranking for DWI fatalities, according to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to the report, New Mexico dropped to 11th in the nation for the number of DWI fatalities per 100,000 population in 2008.  

New Mexico was ranked ninth in the nation for DWI fatalities in both 2006 and 2007.  

“We have all worked very hard to keep drunk drivers off our streets and these rankings reflect the progress we’ve made,” Gov. Bill Richardson said in a news release Friday, noting the 21 percent reduction in drunk driving related fatalities in 2008. “This success can be attributed to our comprehensive and aggressive efforts to stop these tragic deaths.”

The national study included any crash where the blood alcohol level of the driver was .08 or higher.  

In 2006 New Mexico dropped out of the top 10 and has remained out of the top 10 in all other National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ranked categories, including moving from ninth to 18th in the rate of alcohol involved fatalities based on 100 million motor vehicle miles traveled.  

Since taking office, Governor Richardson has implemented many new bold DWI initiatives in an effort to reduce the number of alcohol-involved fatalities in New Mexico. To fight drunk driving in New Mexico, we have increased law enforcement in counties where DWI is the deadliest, created a high visibility public awareness anti-drunk driving campaign, made ignition interlocks mandatory for first time offenders and increased sanctions for bars and restaurants that chronically serve intoxicated or underage patrons.

“This drop in rankings is good news for New Mexico” said DWI Czar Rachel O’Connor. “We will continue to move forward in our efforts to reduce impaired driving in New Mexico.”