You too can catch a naughty State Rep https://amzn.to/2JyuKE2
Tough-on-crime state Rep. Monica Youngblood cried to police officers who arrested her on suspicion of drunken driving early Sunday that she always had been on their side, even bringing up that she had written bills to protect them.
As she told one officer: “So many people tell me that you guys treat people of color like [expletive] and I always stood up for you.”
Video of Youngblood’s encounter with Albuquerque police released Tuesday showed the lawmaker indignant and refusing to take a breath alcohol test after an officer handcuffed her following field sobriety tests at a DWI checkpoint.
In the criminal complaint filed against her, the officer wrote Youngblood smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot, watery eyes.
With Youngblood, 41, standing on a conservative, pro-law-enforcement record heading into an election year when she faces a Democratic challenger in her northwest Albuquerque district, the video is likely to only add to the mounting questions about the Republican legislator’s future in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
The video shows Officer Joshua Montaño asking Youngblood out of her BMW sedan during the early morning checkpoint on Paseo del Norte and directing her to perform field sobriety tests.
She counted backward, walked a line and stood on one leg. Throughout, she complained of being cold and appeared to shiver (the officer said the temperature was in the upper 60s).
Youngblood said she had not been drinking that night but told the officer she had been in an argument with her boyfriend.
Montaño told her the tests were “not pass-or-fail tests” but meant to check for certain clues of intoxication.
“And you exhibited quite a bit of those clues,” he said.
The officer detained Youngblood despite her protests and she declined to take a breath test.
Under New Mexico’s “implied consent” law, drivers can be charged with aggravated DWI if they refuse to submit to a blood or breath test when police have reason to believe the driver may be under the influence.
But as Youngblood was detained, the Republican lawmaker proceeded to tout her support for police in the Legislature. The lawmaker specifically mentioned that she had sponsored reinstating the death penalty as a punishment for murdering law enforcement officers. Youngblood also has sponsored legislation that would stiffen the penalties for repeat drunken drivers and a bill that would not have allowed those arrested on suspicion of aggravated drunken driving to be released on their own recognizance, as she was after her arrest.
Youngblood at one point suggested she was being mistreated when the officer would not release her from handcuffs so she could wipe her face as she was crying.
“I think our officer was polite and professional,” said Detective Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association.
On Youngblood’s comments, he added: “It’s kind of disappointing, especially when you have an elected official who should know better.”
Willoughby said the organization takes no position, however, on whether she remains in the state House.
But the Republican candidate for attorney general, Michael Hendricks, issued a statement on Tuesday calling on Youngblood to resign.
“It must be very clear that it does not matter who you are, no one is above the law,” Hendricks said. “Although, everyone is entitled to due process, the fact that Representative Youngblood refused the breath test would intimate something to hide.”
And on Tuesday night, the chairwoman of the state Democratic Party urged Attorney General Hector Balderas to investigate whether Youngblood attempted to use her position as a legislator to influence police.
“Rep. Youngblood was elected to use her position to help her constituents, not put them in harms way and then attempt to get out of an arrest by citing her legislative actions,” Marg Elliston said in a statement.
Youngblood did not immediately respond to questions about whether she believed the police had treated her poorly, as she had suggested in the video, or whether it was appropriate for her to bring up her status as a legislator during the episode.
“I literally fight for you guys …,” she told Montaño at one point.
Montaño replied: “Well, that doesn’t make it OK to drink and drive.”
Youngblood was booked on one count of aggravated DWI for declining a breath test. She was released that day and is scheduled to face a judge for arraignment on June 13. If convicted, she faces a mandatory 48 hours in jail.