Can ABQ crush speeders' cars? It did $1M in shopping carts - Albuquerque Journal

Can ABQ crush speeders’ cars? It did $1M in shopping carts

TAKE STREET RACERS’ WHEELS: Last week the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office released helicopter and cruiser video of street racers at University and Indian School, blocking the intersection to watch “an individual do doughnuts” in a red Ford Mustang. While the video says deputies tracked the car that was spinning and arrested the driver, some Journal readers want more when it comes to punishing racers and speeders.

Like their vehicles impounded, even destroyed.

Richard Zimmerly emails “I think that the strongest attempt at a solution is to impound the cars of the violators that have not paid their (speed camera) citation.”

Richard says “the violator would have to pay his fine to the city, then pay the towing fees and storage charges before claiming their car. … It might not immediately slow down traffic but would cut down the number of violators not paying the violation charge. There would definitely be a sobering (effect).”

And Lori Hendricks goes one further, emailing “Albuquerque/Bernalillo County needs to enact the same law New Zealand has. Street racers there get their car confiscated and the car is taken to a crusher where the driver is also present to see his car disappear into a block of metal.”

FYI, New Zealand’s “boy-racer legislation” employs a three-strikes scheme; three convictions and your vehicle is seized and crushed into a pancake.

So could this happen here?

Second Judicial District Judge Daniel E. Ramczyk, one of the Journal’s Judge for Yourself columnists, wrote on property seizures May 6 and was good enough to consider reader comments and break down the N.M. (Criminal) Forfeiture Act.

Ramczyk explains “in terms of drivers operating their motor vehicles in a dangerous and reckless fashion and whether the N.M. Forfeiture Act would allow the seizure and forfeiture of those cars, a police officer would have to: 1) determine whether a crime was being committed; 2) decide whether he or she has the authority to arrest the driver; 3) decide whether impounding the car and having it towed to a storage yard is necessary to protect and preserve the property; 4) consult and work with the appropriate prosecuting agency to prosecute and convict the individual arrested; and 5) determine whether the crime is the type of activity which falls within the parameters of the N.M. Forfeiture Act. Additionally, the officer or the prosecuting agency would need to initiate and pursue actual forfeiture proceedings if and when a criminal conviction is obtained by the state.”

As to Richard and Lori’s specific suggestions, Ramczyk says “whether a person’s car could be impounded until he or she pays all outstanding moving violation tickets, or whether a reckless driver’s car could end up in criminal forfeiture would have to be determined by a judge on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, because there are many moving parts to the N.M. Forfeiture Act, police officers and prosecuting agencies probably will need interpretation and clarification from trial judges and appellate courts on how exactly the act applies to specific situations, as in the case of reckless drivers and their cars.”

THOUSANDS OF CARTS CRUSHED: Last week the city Solid Waste Management Department announced it will expand its “abandoned shopping cart program, picking them up as they are left behind in neighborhoods throughout the city of Albuquerque.”

Residents are asked to call 311 if they spot an abandoned shopping cart.

Emily Moore, marketing and communications coordinator for the department, says “so far in fiscal 2022, the department has removed nearly 5,200 (carts), and that number continues to climb. SWMD is looking to grow its current highway and litter crews to take on more abandoned shopping cart duties, or work with a local company to help address the issue. SWMD will also work closer with grocery stores and see how the city can help them.”

An internet search reveals carts run around $200 each, meaning the city has picked up more than $1 million worth. I asked what happens to the carts, and Moore explains the department “crushes the carts and they go to the Cerro Colorado Landfill. In the past SWMD worked to reunite abandoned shopping carts with stores, but the stores refused to retrieve the carts due to broken parts and contamination. As SWMD looks to expand the program, we will look at more possible options.”

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; dwestphal@abqjournal.com; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.

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