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Senator resigns committee posts after DWI conviction

SANTA FE, N.M. — Less than a month after being found guilty of aggravated drunken driving and reckless driving, state Sen. Richard Martinez stepped down from his leadership positions in the Legislature.

Sen. Richard Martinez

Martinez on Friday sent a letter to New Mexico Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen and Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth announcing his resignation from his positions as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and co-chair of the Courts, Corrections and Justice Interim Committee.

Martinez said he made his decision “after extensive thought and consideration and given my recent DWI conviction.”

In a separate statement, the Democrat from Ojo Caliente said he intended to continue serving as senator in District 5.

“Senator Martinez’s resignation as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and co-chair of the Interim Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee is a positive development,” Papen and Wirth said in a statement. “We will make our recommendation for his replacement as chair to the Committees’ Committee, which meets the first day of the legislative session.”

The 30-day session starts Jan. 21.

Martinez is set to be sentenced Jan. 7 and faces a minimum sentence of seven days in jail and a maximum of 180 days on the charges related to an incident in which he plowed into a car stopped at a red light in Española on June 28. An Española couple returning from a graduation party was injured in the crash.

Martinez, who is also a retired Rio Arriba County magistrate judge, performed poorly on two sobriety tests after the crash, as shown on police lapel-camera video, and refused to take a breath test to determine blood alcohol content.

Martinez, 66, who has served in the Senate since 2001, pleaded not guilty to the charges related to the crash but was found guilty Dec. 17 after a bench trial.

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