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Del Norte Football Coach Arrested for DWI

The head football coach at Del Norte High School was arrested and charged with drunken driving last week — a fact Albuquerque Public Schools officials didn’t realize until they were tipped off Thursday.

James “Chris” Howe was charged on April 20 after a Rio Rancho police officer allegedly spotted him weaving out of his lane. Howe was driving west on U.S. 550, west of N.M. 528 and near the Enchanted Hills subdivision when he was stopped at about 11:30 p.m.

According to a criminal complaint, Howe’s blood-alcohol concentration was 0.1 percent and he allegedly had watery, bloodshot eyes. The presumed level of intoxication is 0.08 percent.

Howe, who was hired at Del Norte in 2006, has a previous DWI arrest from 1997. He received a deferred sentence in that case and completed DWI school and a victim impact panel.

APS spokesman Rigo Chavez said the district runs background checks on prospective employees, and any past arrests are considered in light of the job for which the person is applying. He said any crime against children, for example, will always disqualify an applicant, but a DWI might not.

“If he was going to be hired to drive a truck for food services and had a DWI, he would not have been hired,” Chavez said.

Howe did not report his arrest to APS, and district officials were not aware of it until Thursday when a caller tipped them off. There were no changes in Howe’s employment status Thursday evening, although that could change today.

Neither Howe nor Del Norte athletic director Leigh Reddinger responded to messages seeking comment.

The Knights finished 3-7 last season, 1-2 in District 5-4A.

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