Kids get DWI education - Albuquerque Journal

Kids get DWI education

West Mesa High School seniors Victoria Hernandez, 17, left, and Vanessa Medrano, 18, listen during the sentencing hearing for two DWI offenders held during a Courts-to-School Program session held at the school in November. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

West Mesa High students got a first-hand lesson on the consequences of driving while intoxicated recently thanks to a Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court program that brings real defendants to local schools.

Several hundred students gathered in West Mesa’s Performing Arts Center to watch Judge Yvette K. Gonzales hear two cases from a bench set up on the stage.

The Courts-to-School Program, launched in 2010, replicates a real courtroom. It’s a unique mix of civics education, career exploration and “scared straight.”

After hearing their sentences, the defendants – both second-time DWI offenders – delivered emotional statements about the impact of their crimes.

“I felt like my whole world was crashing down on me,” said Matthew Widdows of his arrest. “Being booked into jail was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life.”

Widdows, who works in correctional facilities, had decided to drive a half mile to pick up some pizzas, even though he had consumed a number of drinks.

He was pulled over because he didn’t have his headlights on, and found to be intoxicated.

In the aftermath, Widdows lost his car, driver’s license and girlfriend, and barely held on to his job. Legal fees and lost wages added up to thousands of dollars.

“I made an extremely bad choice,” Widdows said. “I hope you will make good choices.”

Michael McGranahan, the second defendant, had a blood alcohol level of .15 – well above the .08 legal limit – when an officer stopped him for speeding. He spent four days in jail and said he would have been fired if his parents didn’t own the business where he works.

McGranahan’s service technician position requires driving, but he can’t get insurance to operate a company vehicle for five years.

“If I could go back, I’d call Uber,” McGranahan said.

Under the terms of their sentences and probation, both men will spend four days in jail, have to place an ignition interlock on their vehicle, complete 48 hours of community service, pay roughly $800 in court costs, and undergo random drug and alcohol testing.

After the proceedings, the judge, attorneys and probation officers answered questions from the audience.

Gonzales told the Journal she hopes Courts-to-School inspires students to learn more about the legal system.

Home » From the newspaper » Kids get DWI education


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Woman, 2 children killed by suspected drunken driver
ABQnews Seeker
Wagon Mound scene of latest DWI ... Wagon Mound scene of latest DWI tragedy in New Mexico
2
'A disaster waiting to happen'
ABQnews Seeker
Experts: Climate change, policies left region's ... Experts: Climate change, policies left region's forests overgrown say region's forests overgrown
3
In fire's wake, NM examines its prescribed forest burns
ABQnews Seeker
Experts point to need for more ... Experts point to need for more trained professionals, planning tools amid changing climate
4
Voting machines tested before and after NM elections
ABQnews Seeker
Hand counts, machine tallies produce strikingly ... Hand counts, machine tallies produce strikingly similar results
5
Experts: US Court fractures decades of Native American law
ABQnews Seeker
Ruling a departure from federal Indian ... Ruling a departure from federal Indian law and veers from the push to increase tribes' ability to prosecute all crimes on reservations -- regardless ...
6
APS: Progress made in handling of records requests
ABQnews Seeker
District says it has hired two ... District says it has hired two new records custodians
7
Man arrested in suspected gang-related homicide in May
ABQnews Seeker
Victim shot while in car at ... Victim shot while in car at In and Out off Central
8
‘Dispatch’ from 1947 offers another look at UFO incident
ABQnews Seeker
The Roswell incident has been one ... The Roswell incident has been one of the most thoroughly researched and debated mysteries in the history of the UFO phenomenon and among the ...
9
ABQ artist transforms discarded garments into elevated, recycled pieces
ABQnews Seeker
Doug Wiggins' aesthetic caught the eye ... Doug Wiggins' aesthetic caught the eye of Billie Eilish, who purchased items for her world tour
10
FBI looking for man who robbed Sandia Casino
ABQnews Seeker
The FBI and the Sandia Police ... The FBI and the Sandia Police Department are looking for a man who robbed the Sandia Resort and Casino on Friday night. Frank Fisher, ...