Correction: This story has been corrected to show that Ryan Flynn took a plea of careless driving. The story also should have said an online report produced by New Mexico In Depth and the Santa Fe Reporter, which brought the incident to light, did not include police interviews on the incident. Instead, the story said it did not include police.
Ryan Flynn, the head of New Mexico’s oil and gas industry and lobby group and a former cabinet secretary under Gov. Susana Martinez, spent Wednesday taking questions about his May 2017 arrest on a drunken driving charge, which was pleaded down to a charge of careless driving.
Such a plea process is common in the state, especially with first-time DWI charges. About 45 percent of DWI cases in Bernalillo County, where Flynn was arrested, are dismissed.
Last year, Flynn was arrested by an Albuquerque police officer who said he was driving erratically and fared poorly on field sobriety tests. Flynn also declined to take a breath test, according to the police report. In New Mexico, declining a sobriety test automatically triggers an aggravated DWI charge and arrest.
But prosecutors said Wednesday they agreed with Flynn’s private attorney’s assertions that there was not enough evidence to show that Flynn was driving drunkenly.
In August 2017, prosecutors dismissed the DWI charge in place of Flynn’s participation in victim impact classes, alcohol abuse screening and other classes given to many who are convicted or plead to DWI-related charges or in DWI-related cases.
State driver’s license administrators, in their routine hearings for DWI case defendants, also agreed that there was not enough evidence to continue oversight and revocation of Flynn’s license. Their report also says there was not evidence showing the arrest was lawful.
Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said only that he would “let the officer’s police report speak for itself.”
The story of Flynn’s arrest and plea was first reported this week by New Mexico In Depth and the Santa Fe Reporter.
“Both the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office and an independent Administrative Law Judge objectively reviewed the facts and arrived at the same conclusion: I never should have been detained and there was no evidence to support the charges. Rather than drag this event out with a costly trial, I opted to plea no contest to a charge of careless driving to put an end to a stressful situation for my family and me,” Flynn said in a statement Wednesday.
Flynn, now 39, served as Martinez’s cabinet secretary for the Environment Department before taking over as executive director at the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. He also previously worked as an attorney at the department before becoming secretary in April 2013 and left for the association in 2016.
Oil and Gas spokesman Robert McEntyre said Wednesday that Flynn was not given any special treatment in the criminal justice system.