State senator gets 5-day prison sentence for drunken driving
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico state Sen. Richard Martinez was sentenced to serve five days in jail on drunken and reckless driving convictions in connection with a June car wreck in which he rear-ended a car that was stopped at a red light.
State District Court Judge Francis Mathew told Martinez that by driving while intoxicated he had violated the trust of constituents he was supposed to protect.
Martinez, a Democrat from Ojo Caliente, also was ordered to serve 85 days on supervised probation, under suspended provisions of two concurrent 90-day jail terms. Prosecutors had recommended 180 days in jail, citing Martinez’s knowledge as a former magistrate judge and legislator specializing in judicial oversight and reform.
Defense attorney David Foster said he plans to file an appeal. Until then, Martinez is due at a Rio Arriba County jail on Jan. 14 — allowing enough time to serve five days and still attend the start of the annual legislative session on Jan. 21.
”You did affect the lives of innocent people that evening by inflicting harm, pain and suffering on them, which by the evidence will be for the rest of their lives,” the judge told Martinez.
Martinez delivered an impassioned apology to the judge, residents of his Senate district, his family and the couple who was injured when Martinez’s SUV struck their vehicle from behind in the community of Española. He said the episode had forced him to acknowledge that he is an alcoholic.
“I’m sorry that I created this mess and that I haven’t apologized any sooner,” Martinez said. “I’m a good man, and I’ve worked hard all my life as a public servant.”
Johnny Sisneros, a 53-year-old security guard, testified at the hearing that the wreck last June left him unable to run. He has lingering pain that interferes with sleep, playing with his granddaughter and everyday activities. He said later that he was not satisfied with terms of the judge’s sentencing.
Outside the courtroom, Martinez said he intends to continue serving as a lawmaker.
Martinez was found guilty of aggravated drunken driving and reckless driving during a two-day trial in December that highlighted police lapel camera footage of Martinez fumbling over a field sobriety test and reacting with disbelief from a hospital bed when notified that he would be placed under arrest and could lose his driving privileges.
He also was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service at a hospital or homeless shelter, attend driving school, attend a 12-step program on addiction for six months and only drive vehicles equipped with an intoxication detector. Financial penalties include restitution to victims of the crash for medical expenses not covered by insurance.
His defense attorney suggested the senator became disoriented as a result of hitting his head in the collision and that police had bungled their investigation. Martinez has been stripped by legislative colleagues of his influential position as chairman of the Senate judiciary committee.
A Democratic primary challenger has emerged in Martinez’s district. But he too has a drunken driving conviction from decades ago.