Governor signs bill allowing interlock license after sentence served
Gov. Susana Martinez stood rock solid against granting driver’s licenses to those convicted of the worst roadway crimes until they completed their sentences. Martinez twice vetoed bills that would have allowed drunken drivers who maimed or killed someone to obtain an interlock license before completing probation or parole.
This year the state Legislature approved a stricter bill that met Martinez’s specifications, and she signed it Monday.
Freshman Sen. Ron Griggs sponsored the bill, which he said was inspired by a Carlsbad case in which a drunken driver caused the death of a close friend.
Griggs, R-Alamogordo, said legislators made the bill tough enough this time to meet the governor’s standards.
A former district attorney, Martinez said she would not minimize the severity of vehicular homicide or vehicular injury cases by allowing licensing restrictions equivalent to drunken-driving crimes in which no one was hurt.
Griggs, right, said the vehicular homicide case that led to the bill occurred in 2008.
Diana Carrasco, then 20, lost control of the car she was driving and it rolled over, killing one of her passengers, Katherine Kirkes.
“It was her best friend,” Griggs said.
Court records show that Carrasco pleaded guilty in July 2009 to vehicular homicide and aggravated drunken driving. A judge placed her on probation for five years, but she was prohibited by law from driving, even to keep appointments with her probation officer.
Without a change in the law, Carrasco and others with similar convictions could never get a driver’s licenses.
Griggs said the bill to allow interlock licenses after all punishment was completed would help offenders lead more productive lives.
“People need to be able to drive to get to work, to get to school or to go to court-ordered treatment programs,” he said. “If they are denied an interlock license, they are most likely denied an opportunity to support themselves and their families. We need to end the catch-22 they are in.”
For Carrasco, the bill represents a second chance after a horrible crime.
“It would enable her to resume a normal life, as much as she can,” Griggs said.
The law allowing interlock licensing after completion of probation or parole takes effect July 1.