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SANTA FE — State Representative Georgene Louis was jailed in a Santa Fe jail early Monday morning for aggravated drunk driving after being pulled over for speeding late Sunday night.
The Albuquerque Democrat’s arrest, the latest in a string of CFA cases involving New Mexico lawmakers, prompted swift calls for Louis to resign and came just days before the 30-day session this year.
Louis, a five-term attorney and lawmaker, was arrested by a Santa Fe police officer who timed her driving her car 17 miles per hour over the speed limit on St. Francis Drive, according to a criminal complaint filed in Santa Fe City Court.
The officer reported that Louis said she had consumed two or three glasses of vodka and, when asked why she was driving so fast, replied “she just wanted to go home”.
There was also a strong smell of alcoholic beverages coming from inside the car and the officer noted that Louis’ eyes were bloodshot and watery, according to the criminal complaint.
The legislator would have recognized that his registration certificate had expired and was unable to provide valid proof of insurance.
After taking field sobriety tests during which she swayed and struggled to keep her balance, according to the officer, Louis was arrested at 11:55 p.m. and agreed to take a breathalyzer test.
Two tests revealed a blood alcohol level of 0.17%, more than double the legal limit in New Mexico, according to the complaint.
Louis was then booked into the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center at 5:46 a.m.
Under state law, aggravated drunk driving charges can be filed when a suspect’s blood alcohol level is 0.16 percent or higher, in cases where someone is injured or when an individual refuses to submit to testing.
In a statement released by his attorney, Kitren Fischer, Louis took responsibility for the incident.
“I’m sorry and deeply regret my error in judgement,” Louis said. “I know I let so many people down. I accept responsibility for my mistake.
“I prioritize my health and will work hard to regain the trust of my constituents, my community and my family,” she added.
The arrest quickly trickled down to the Roundhouse, where Louis is chair of the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.
The committee was due to meet on Monday with just three days left in this year’s 30-day legislative session, but the committee hearing was canceled without explanation.
House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said during Monday’s session that the committee would meet on Tuesday, but did not provide details on the situation.
“Georgene is a dear friend and a truly excellent legislator,” Egolf said in a statement.
“Until I have more information on the facts of this incident or the opportunity to speak to him directly, I cannot comment further.”
Top House Democrats also said in a later statement that it was “important that we let the legal process take its course.” They also said the Legislative Assembly would continue its business until the end of the session Thursday at noon.
“As friends and colleagues, we are also concerned for the well-being of Representative Louis and her family during this difficult time,” said the statement from Egolf, House Majority Leader Javier Martinez. of Albuquerque, House Majority Whip Doreen Gallegos of Las Cruces and Caucus Chair Wonda Johnson of Church Rock.
In contrast, New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce called on Louis to “do the right thing” and step down.
“She faces criminal charges, and that kind of behavior does not coincide with that of a responsible official,” Pearce said.
“Rep. Louis violated the public trust, failed his constituents and endangered the lives of innocent people.
Louis, a registered Acoma Pueblo member, unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party’s nomination last year for an open congressional seat in the Albuquerque area.
When she announced her campaign, she said her experiences as a teenage mother who went to college and law school as a single mother would make her a natural successor to the former U.S. Representative Deb Haaland, who was named U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
Latest drink-driving allegation
Meanwhile, the charges against Louis mark the latest drunk driving allegations to hit the Roundhouse.
Most recently, former state senator Richard Martinez, D-Ojo Caliente, was sentenced to five days in jail in 2020 after being convicted of drunk driving charges stemming from a 2019 incident. during which he rammed into another vehicle that had stopped at a red light. in Española, injuring the two occupants of the other vehicle.
Before that, ex-Rep. Monica Youngblood, a Republican from Albuquerque, was convicted of aggravated drunk driving in 2018 after being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. She was sentenced to one day in jail.
Both Martinez and Youngblood refused to resign from office and both lost their re-election campaigns, Youngblood in 2018 and Martinez in 2020.