ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A judge on Wednesday ordered a New Mexico lawmaker seeking re-election to serve a day in jail after finding her guilty last week of aggravated drunken driving.
The ruling gives Rep. Monica Youngblood, an Albuquerque Republican, a one-day credit for the hours she spent in custody following her May arrest.
She had been stopped at a sobriety checkpoint in Albuquerque where she told an officer she wrote bills to protect police. Her misdemeanor conviction carried a minimum sentence of two days of jail time.
Youngblood’s sentence also includes a year of probation, requirements to complete 24 hours of community service, pay court costs and fees and undergo random drug and alcohol testing. An alcohol ignition interlock outfitted on her vehicle in August will remain in place for a year.
“I am ready to accept the consequences,” Youngblood, 42, told the judge. “I’m aware my actions have consequences.”
Despite the statement, it remained unclear whether she might file an appeal of her conviction or sentence. When asked directly if she would, her attorney Paul Kennedy replied, “Who knows?”
Youngblood, a three-term state lawmaker, consistently has supported outgoing Gov. Susana Martinez’s agenda for stiffer criminal penalties, including proposals for tougher DWI punishments.
Pro tem Judge Kevin Fitzwater said Youngblood has until Oct. 19 to check into jail unless an appeal is filed. During a bench trial last week, Kennedy sought to undermine the validity of the checkpoint stop, arguing the public wasn’t properly notified as required by law.
He also argued Youngblood had performed well on the sobriety test in contrast to an officer’s testimony that she failed to follow his instructions and stepped slightly to the side when asked to walk in a straight line.
The officer said he could smell alcohol on Youngblood. She refused a breathalyzer test.
Youngblood’s sentence comes as the office of Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas has called for an ethics commission of the Legislature to investigate her conduct during her arrest. Body camera video shows her telling an officer that she’s a lawmaker who advocates for police.
“I literally fight for you guys,” she said.
Balderas’ office alleged that Youngblood used her position in an attempt to influence police, and possibly in violation of the state’s Governmental Conduct Act.
Her attorney has rejected the accusation, saying it’s politically motivated.
Youngblood’s Democratic challenger Karen Bash said last week that people in New Mexico deserve a “representative who leads by example.”
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