ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Shortly after she was arrested on an aggravated drunken driving charge early Sunday, state Rep. Monica Youngblood told an Albuquerque officer through tears that she stands up for police when others criticize them.
And she made it clear to the officer that she is a legislator — one who tries to help the police, she said.
“I literally fight for you guys,” Youngblood tells the arresting officer as she cries in the back of his police car.
“Well, that doesn’t make it OK to drink and drive,” he replies. Youngblood insists she hadn’t been drinking.
Albuquerque police released about an hour of lapel footage Tuesday morning showing the arrest of the 41-year-old Republican lawmaker, often described as a rising political star.
Youngblood was driving a 2016 BMW around 1 a.m. Sunday when she was stopped at a sobriety checkpoint on Paseo del Norte. The footage shows her 13-year-old Yorkie, Jeter, riding in the passenger seat. Youngblood was later arrested and booked into the county jail.
The representative has supported legislation to toughen DWI-related penalties and, in 2015 she co-sponsored a bill that would have required people accused of aggravated DWI to pay a bond or stay in jail until appearing before a judge.
Youngblood did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The state Democratic Party late Tuesday called on Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat, to investigate whether Youngblood had used her position as a legislator to influence police during her arrest.
During her encounter with police, Youngblood tells officers she has introduced “bills to protect you all.” She appears to mention her repeated attempts to reinstate the death penalty for those convicted of killing law enforcement officers, corrections officers and children.
“I’m the one that runs the death penalty for people who try to kill cops and child murderers,” she says.
“Well, I appreciate all that, but that doesn’t change anything,” the officer tells her. “It doesn’t change anything at all.”
That exchange comes after she is put through a series of field sobriety tests, on which, according to the officer, she performed poorly.
Youngblood appears to wobble a bit as she walks heel-to-toe. She stands on one foot while counting to 20, and goes beyond what the officer asked for as she counts backward and recites a portion of the alphabet.
She repeatedly complained that she was cold and asked for a jacket from her car.
Early on, Youngblood told the officer that she was on her way home after a fight with her boyfriend.
She seems startled when the officer tells her she is going to be arrested, and says she “literally did everything right.” He explains the tests are not pass/fail and that he was looking for signs of impairment.
Before two of the tests, he asks her about her level of education.
“I have a high school diploma, plus a real estate license, plus I’m a state rep,” she says.
“Oh good, so you can count backwards, I’m assuming, and you know your alphabet?” he asks.
Before handcuffing her, the officer tells Youngblood that she smells of alcohol, even though she denied drinking. She refused to take a breath test, and her refusal was the basis of the aggravated DWI charge.
In a statement Sunday, Youngblood said she regrets “the situation altogether” but she “most definitely” regrets “not taking the breathalyzer test.” She did not reply to a Journal question sent to her on Tuesday asking why she chose not to take the test.
As the officer fills out paperwork on a laptop while she sits in the back seat of his police vehicle, Youngblood says that she “didn’t believe it” when people told her that officers treated them badly.
“People tell me that you guys treat people of color like (expletive), and I always stand up for you guys,” Youngblood says soon after the officer tells her that he can’t remove her handcuffs so that she can wipe her face. “I stick up for you guys, and I say, you know what, they wouldn’t treat you like (expletive) if there wasn’t a reason.”
Youngblood, who’s Hispanic, represents House District 68 in Northwest Albuquerque. She is seeking re-election this year and is set to face Democrat Karen Bash in the general election.
Her arrest has drawn little public reaction from fellow public officials so far. But a fellow Republican, Michael Hendricks, who’s running for attorney general, called on Youngblood to resign, noting her refusal to take the breath test and arguing that “no one is above the law.”
If Youngblood did decide to abandon her re-election campaign after the June primary, a Bernalillo County committee of the Republican Party would appoint a replacement candidate for the general election.
Youngblood was released from the county jail shortly after she was booked. Jeter was taken to an animal shelter.
Journal staff writer Dan McKay contributed to this report.