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New bill could allow police to attend DWI hearing via video

Kai Porter
March 08, 2017 06:52 PM

New Mexico is facing a huge budget crisis due to declining oil and gas revenue, but one lawmaker is proposing a bill she says would save our state hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

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The bill (HB133) would allow all officers in New Mexico to appear by video as at a DWI suspect's license revocation hearing. The bill has passed in the House and is now making its way through Senate committees.

Current laws require police officers to attend a DWI suspect’s license revocation hearing/

If officers are allowed to appear by video the state is expected to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in officer overtime costs, travel costs, and officer vehicle maintenance.

“If the officer fails to appear the case is essentially dismissed. Often times we have these officers attending these hearings where they also can’t be in court and if they’re not in court, those cases will also be dismissed. So there’s a trickle-down effect. And, so if we can get these officers to appear via video conference it has the potential to save money, protect new Mexicans by allowing them to be where they should be which is patrolling our streets and ensuring that we’re safe in our communities,” said Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes.

The bill’s financial impact report estimates it’ll cost about $100,000 up front for the computers and setting up the internet access.

Representative Barnes believes that figure may be too high since a judge could allow and officer to use something almost everyone has, a smartphone.

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Kai Porter

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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