Newly-elected Santa Fe judge arrested for DWI

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SANTA FE, N.M. – A Santa Fe County judge has been sidelined amid drunk driving allegations. 

On Monday morning, a First Judicial District court judge put a pause on hearings before Judge Dev Atma Khalsa until further notice.

Khalsa was elected as a Santa Fe magistrate judge in November. He was arrested Sunday morning, after police say he was driving drunk and crashed his car on I-25.

Santa Fe police were called to a rollover crash on I-25 near the Saint Francis Drive exit.

The driver, Dev Atma Khalsa, was taken to the hospital. Officers say they smelled alcohol and Khalsa had slurred speech.

“People will want accountability in these offices, and they should have that.”

Khalsa was elected in November, campaigning on accountability, and issues he called priorities, like DWI.

Since January, he’s heard about a dozen cases related to DWI for things like revoked licenses.

“It’s extremely disappointing when any public figure allegedly makes a choice to drive impaired,” said Katrina Latka, executive director for New Mexico Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

While an arrest doesn’t mean guilt, the First Judicial District is taking steps to protect the institution by ordering Khalsa not to conduct hearings until further notice.

The Judicial Standards Commission and the Supreme Court could have future decision-making authority.

“We’re just asking that everyone is working together to prevent these things from happening going forward. We want people to designate a driver, we simply want people to make smart decisions, and refuse to get behind the wheel of a car when you’ve been drinking. Whether or not that happened in this case in particular, we just want people to make those smart choices,” said Latka. 

Police say Khalsa denied drinking and refused a blood test. Since he was taken to the hospital, Santa Fe police say the standard field sobriety test was not completed. 

The case is being handled in municipal court.