How This New Mexico Drunk Driving Ruling Is Just Plain Stupid
Drunk driving is NEVER okay, but what if you're doing your job and never even interact with the drunk driver? This law makes it so you could still be charged.
Buckle up, we've got a lot of unpacking to do from this decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court announced this week. On Monday, the New Mexico Supreme court made a decision that could make gas stations liable for selling fuel to drivers who they believe to be intoxicated.
According to KOAT 7 News, "gas vendors may be liable for negligently supplying gasoline to a drunk driver who could potentially injure other people." The decision was in response to a 2011 case where a McKinley County vendor sold gas to an intoxicated driver. Driver Andy Denny ran out of gas and the gas station near Tohatchi sold him gas and Denny drove off. His vehicle crossed the centerline and he struck another vehicle head-on, killing one person, per Fox 34.
When first reading that headline, I thought "wow, this is a great decision! This will make people who see a drunk driver think twice about letting them off the premises and potentially cause an accident." But after thinking about it, I wondered just how much interaction a gas station attendant would have to have with a drunk person to be called technically liable?
And that's exactly what the dissenting opinion, Justice Barbara Vigil brought up. Justice Vigil explained her reasoning, asking "how much investigation" a gas vendor must do to find out if the person is competent to operate a motor vehicle. And what other goods and services do this apply to? If a drunk driver gets a flat tire and purchases a new tire, is the tire vendor or mechanic liable? What about auto parts stores? Do they need to also double-check people, and what if the person does curbside service so the interaction is as little as possible?
It seems as though the new ruling is giving New Mexicans more questions than answers. Better to not drunk drive at all, which is the law.