ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico state lawmaker insists in video released by police Tuesday that she had not consumed any alcohol, but the officer who stops her says he can smell it as he handcuffs and detains her on suspicion of drunken driving.
“Are you kidding me?” Rep. Monica Youngblood, an Albuquerque Republican, says after she is placed in a police vehicle. “I fight for you guys every time I get the chance. Seriously.”
Youngblood, 41, was taken into custody early Sunday at a DWI checkpoint stop in Albuquerque, where she complied with a field sobriety test but refused to take a breathalyzer test.
She told the officer in the recording that she hadn’t had a drink since the day before.
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Youngblood was later released from jail on her own recognizance after she was arrested on one count of aggravated DWI — a petty misdemeanor.
She is expected to face a judge on June 13.
The hearing date will come after New Mexico’s primary election. Youngblood is running unopposed on the GOP ballot.
Youngblood, a three-term lawmaker, has sponsored and supported multiple bills over the years aimed at toughening drunken driving penalties.
In 2015, one of the bills she co-sponsored would have required people suspected of aggravated DWI to appear before a judge before they could be released from jail. The bill was not passed.
In a statement Sunday, she said she regretted the situation, especially her decision not to take the breathalyzer test.
“As a legislator, I have always taken drinking and driving seriously,” she said. “I look forward to bringing this matter to a swift and just conclusion.”
Her legislative record also shows support for Gov. Susana Martinez tough-on-crime agenda. In recent years, she has backed an enhancement of the state’s three-strikes law, and she has proposed reinstating the death penalty in New Mexico for convicted killers of police officers and children.
Youngblood did not respond to a voice message from The Associated Press on Tuesday requesting additional comment. An attorney for her is not yet listed in court records.
Police said Youngblood performed badly on the field sobriety test. She disagreed.
In the 44-minute police video, Youngblood gets out of a BMW she is driving and tells the officer that she is returning home from her boyfriend’s house after a dispute. Online court records show Youngblood recently went through a divorce.
There are no passengers in her car, though there is a small dog.
Youngblood follows the officer’s commands to balance on one leg for 20 seconds on a sidewalk. She also counts forward and backward.
While taking steps in a straight line, she appears to lose her balance but quickly regains it.
When the officer asks Youngblood her education level, she tells him she has a high school diploma and real estate license. “Plus, I’m a state rep,” she said.
She is friendly and tells the officer she supports what they are doing.
However, she becomes visibly upset and tearful after she’s handcuffed, saying she performed the field sobriety test perfectly.
When her initial request to have her handcuffs removed is turned down, she tells the officer that she had dismissed critics who said police mistreated minorities.
“I wrote bills to protect you all,” she sobs.