DWI checkpoints are one of the most effective, albeit controversial, ways of reducing the number of drunk drivers on the road, and as one man in Albuquerque, NM recently found out, refusing to comply with the police officers at the checkpoint won’t help you avoid the consequences of driving while intoxicated.
“Most people that are convicted of a DWI regret the events that led them to their conviction,” says Damon Chetson, Criminal Defense Attorney, The Chetson Firm. “In many cases, people aren’t making a malicious decision to drink and drive, rather, they had a bit to drink and didn’t realize the extent of the impact the alcohol had on their system. DWI’s are absolutely serious issues, but often the penalties are overly harsh.”
Thirty-year-old Enrique Larios had already been charged with one DWI on December 6th when he attempted to speed past a DWI checkpoint in the early morning hours of December 28th.
Police reports state that around 12:35 a.m., Larios drove up to an Albuquerque Police Department (APD) checkpoint stationed near Eubank and Constitution. Larios pulled over as an APD officer approached, but refused to roll his window down all the way while talking to the officer. According to Simon Drobik, a spokesman for the APD, the officer noted that Larios was visibly impaired, that Larios smelled of alcohol, and that four other passengers were riding in the vehicle.
When asked if he had been drinking, Larios replied that he had not.
Before the officer could assess the situation further, Larios decided that he had had enough. He “blasted through the road block,” Drobik stated, and as several APD police officers jumped out of the way, Larios proceeded to drive through several traffic cones.
He didn’t manage to get past a spike strip on the road, however. The spikes punctured one of the car’s tires, causing the vehicle to swerve off the road.
Larios, still determined to escape, attempted to continue driving with only three working tires. He ended up smashing into a parked car not too far from the road block, and his own car flipped over, causing one of the passengers to be thrown from the vehicle and pinned underneath it.
The passenger was not critically injured, Drobik states, but was transported to University of New Mexico Hospital, along with Larios and two other passengers, for medical treatment.
Although it’s highly likely that Larios was intoxicated in this particular situation, he was only being charged with “aggravated fleeing” upon being released from the hospital, since the normal DWI arrest procedure was disrupted by the crash and the results from Larios’s blood test were not immediately available.
As Drobik puts it, Larios is certainly “a frequent flyer,” but it’s important to note that the majority of drivers do not have the same mindset as Larios.
“If you get pulled over at a checkpoint, do not flee, as doing so will result in additional consequences,” advises Chetson. “Be polite with the officers, if you have been drinking, regardless of the amount, you should courteously decline to answer questions, perform field sobriety tests, or blow into a breathalyzer machine. People need to be aware that in many jurisdictions, there are separate consequences to refusing to provide a breath sample and there are alternative actions that law enforcement can take to attempt to obtain Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), but those consequences pale in comparison to the penalties of a DWI conviction.”
Despite the unfortunate outcome of Larios’s decision, perhaps the silver lining here is that he was stopped before injuring anyone else — and he’ll likely receive yet another drunk driving charge, ensuring that he stays off the road for a while.