- Associated Press - Monday, April 28, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Nearly 200 state employees were temporarily banned from driving government vehicles for a variety of violations over the past fiscal year, according to a New Mexico agency.

The General Services Department said 191 workers had their driving privileges suspended from July 1 to April 23, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Sunday (https://bit.ly/1tUBE9J ).

Reasons ranged from driving with revoked licenses to drunken-driving arrests. Others included having expired defensive driving certificates and failing to provide a current certificate during an audit.

“Unfortunately, we have to suspend driving privileges fairly frequently,” said Ed Burckle, Cabinet secretary of the General Services Department.

The agencies with the most workers suspended from driving state vehicles were the Department of Health with 43, the Taxation and Revenue Department with 34, and the Human Services Department with 32.

Each state agency is responsible for appointing a vehicle manager to maintain driving logs, enforce the rules and serve as a liaison to the state Transportation Services Division, said Tim Korte, General Services spokesman.

Among those to lose privileges were the Public Regulation Commission’s chief of staff and a state deputy fire marshal.

Commission Chief of Staff Vincent Martinez and Deputy Fire Marshal Vernon Muller had to relinquish their driving privileges until July 10 after Muller gave Martinez’s son and his girlfriend a ride from Raton to Santa Fe in March without prior authorization.

Martinez said he requested that the state reconsider Muller’s suspension because he had asked Muller to give the couple a ride from their broken-down vehicle.

An employee can seek permission to give a ride in a government vehicle to unauthorized people, but only for state business.

Transportation Services Division is considering Muller’s appeal.

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