Heartbreaking: After accident, California woman petitions to toughen NM’s drunk driving laws
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A California woman whose heartbreaking story has garnered attention across the state is fighting to make New Mexico’s drunk driving laws tougher — and she has the support of Gov. Susana Martinez.
Aileen Smith, who was seven months pregnant and looking forward to giving birth to a boy she and her husband had already named Dmitiri, lost the unborn child after a car accident in June in which the driver of the other car is charged with pulling out in front of them on Interstate 25 in San Miguel County, leading to an accident that left Smith with injuries to her abdomen and sternum.
Doctors at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe were unable to save the unborn baby.
Ramon Hernandez of Las Vegas, NM, has pled not guilty to vehicular homicide and felony DWI. State Motor Vehicle Division records show Hernandez had at least four prior DWI convictions and his license had been revoked prior to the crash.
Smith has established an online petition calling on the state to hand out tougher penalties for drunk drivers: http://www.change.org/petitions/justice-for-dimitri-stronger-dwi-laws
The site features a heartrending photo of Smith holding her child after doctors performed a Cesarean section in their attempt to save the baby:
“It is my mission to see justice done for my son, Dimitri,” Smith writes on the petition page. “We were hit while on our way to see our family in San Diego and celebrate the pending arrival of the first child born to our family in over two decades. Please support our cause in installing stronger DWI laws in New Mexico.”
Capitol Report New Mexico talked to Gov. Martinez yesterday (Aug. 14) about the case and Martinez said she wants lawmakers to tackle the issue in the next legislative session:
In a post accompanying an Associated Press article that ran in the Sacramento Bee, Smith wrote in the story’s “comments” section:
“In New Mexico you can have up to 7 DWIs before any real consequences. The statistics being reported by the Governor’s office say that 40% of auto accidents are due to drunk driving. 60% of the time it is a repeat drunk driver. There is a real need to strengthen the DWI law in New Mexico. Help us by signing the petition, and bring justice to Dimitri.”
In the AP story, the attorney for Hernandez said authorities are “going to have to prove” his client was behind the wheel at the time of the crash.
The story also quotes Smith’s husband, Zach, who attended St. John’s College in New Mexico, saying, “I lived in Santa Fe for a year and I knew the drunken driving laws were lax back then. I come from California, where if you have a third DWI, they put you away.”
Aileen Smith is from San Diego and she and her husband currently live in Colorado Springs.