N.M. Rep. Monica Youngblood has been a staunch supporter of tougher DWI laws.
The Albuquerque Republican even pushed, unsuccessfully, legislation in 2015 that would have required someone accused of aggravated DWI – which includes refusal to take a Breathalyzer test – to pay a bond or go before a judge before being released from jail.
But when it came time to walk her tough talk, around 1 a.m. Sunday at a checkpoint on Paseo del Norte, Youngblood refused to blow after police say she smelled of alcohol and exhibited signs of driving under the influence in a series of field sobriety tests.
The 41-year-old lawmaker, who had been considered a rising political star, was arrested and booked into the county jail.
She insists she had had nothing to drink. Why then would she not take the test, bid the officer good night and head home?
In addition to her clear-cut hypocrisy, Youngblood steps over the line in her conversations with officers. “I’m the one that runs the death penalty for people who try to kill cops and child murderers,” she says on an officer’s lapel-camera recording. (View it at ABQJournal.com.)
Youngblood, who is Hispanic, also told officers “people tell me that you guys treat people of color like (expletive) and I always stand up for you guys.”
In a statement later Sunday, Youngblood said she regrets “the situation altogether” but she “most definitely” regrets “not taking the Breathalyzer test.” Indeed.
It will be up to the courts to decide whether Youngblood is guilty – which turns largely on whether the officer had probable cause to ask her to take the Breathalyzer. But the verdict already is in as to whether she should remain a member of the Legislature.
That’s unfortunate, as Youngblood has sponsored many bills in her five years in the House that have/would have made a positive difference in New Mexicans’ lives. From regulating rideshare services including Uber and Lyft to ensure insurance coverage and driver background checks, to trying to make sure children can read, to cracking down on food stamp fraud so those who really need the assistance get it, to reducing opioid overdoses via drugs less likely to be abused, Youngblood has tackled meaningful – and controversial – legislation rather than coast on memorials and resolutions.
She is seeking re-election, is unopposed in the June 5 primary and would face off with Democrat Karen Bash in the November general election. That shouldn’t happen. Youngblood should step down after the primary, which would allow the Republican Party’s Bernalillo County Central Committee to name a replacement on the general election ballot.
Voters in her northwest Bernalillo County district deserve to have a choice in who represents them. But that choice should no longer include Youngblood.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.