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Attorney charged with DWI twice in less than a year

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

David Serna (MDC)

A prominent Albuquerque attorney whose drunken driving case was dismissed in July was arrested on similar charges Saturday after a crash in the North Valley, police said.

According to a criminal complaint, David Serna “appeared to be intoxicated” and was “having a lot of trouble standing, walking and balancing.” Serna, who reportedly smelled of alcohol and was slurring some of his words, told officers that he’d had a beer about half an hour before the wreck. A breath test later showed his blood-alcohol level was at least twice the legal limit, police said.

Attempts Sunday evening to reach him and the attorney who represented him in his prior DWI case were unsuccessful.

The 66-year-old lawyer is perhaps best known for representing Levi Chavez, an Albuquerque police officer charged – and ultimately acquitted – in the death of his wife.

Serna told officers that he was on his way home when he turned from westbound Griegos onto southbound Second and hit an eastbound car that was also turning south onto Second.

“He said he saw the car coming eastbound and he thought he could make the turn,” an officer wrote in the complaint.

Serna’s arrest on a single count of aggravated drunken driving comes less than a year after he was arrested in January near the Whole Foods on Carlisle. Police said then that Serna, who appeared to be drunk, was getting into his vehicle when an officer warned him that he should not drive and instead called an Uber for him.

Serna returned to his vehicle not long after, and the same officer pulled him over as he tried to drive away, court documents allege. Serna told police then that he was a DWI attorney and acknowledged that he should not have been driving.

A judge found the arrest was unconstitutional and threw out key evidence. Without that evidence, prosecutors were unable to move ahead with the case and dismissed it. Serna had been required to wait 42 minutes for a second officer to arrive and conduct a DWI investigation, and the judge found that detention period was not a reasonable investigatory detention.

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