New Mexico Considers Banning Alcohol Purchases for Many Convicted Drunk Drivers

New Mexico, which has one of the highest rates of alcohol-related traffic deaths in the country, is considering a bill that would bar many convicted drunk drivers from purchasing alcohol anywhere.

The bill would prevent these drivers from buying alcohol in stores, restaurants or bars. If passed, it would be among the most restrictive drunk-driving laws in the country, according to The New York Times.

Currently, people convicted of drunk driving in New Mexico must install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle, usually for one year for their first offense. An ignition interlock device requires a driver to take a breath test before starting the car, and will prevent the car from starting if the operator has a blood alcohol level above a certain level.

Under the current bill, the measure would be expanded so that drivers with interlock devices would be issued a specially marked driver license that states they are prohibited from purchasing alcohol.

The bill passed in the state House of Representatives, and cleared a Senate committee late last week.

“We have a terrible problem in New Mexico, and what we are trying to do is come at it from the other side, not just the punitive, incarceration and interlock side,” said State Representative Brian Egolf, who introduced the measure.

A legislator who opposes the measure, Representative Antonio Maestas, said he is concerned it will criminalize addiction. “What this bill does, in my opinion, is essentially micromanage alcoholism without providing a treatment option,” he said.

About half of states monitor drunk drivers’ alcohol consumption, generally through an ankle bracelet. Alaska has a similar law to the one being proposed in New Mexico.