Rio Arriba County Man Pleads Guilty to and is Sentenced for Driving While Intoxicated in the Carson National Forest
ALBUQUERQUE – David J. Martinez, 36, of El Rito, N.M., pleaded guilty today in federal court to an aggravated driving under the influence misdemeanor charge, and was sentenced immediately thereafter.
Martinez was arrested on Sept. 27, 2013, and charged in a criminal complaint with aggravated driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor and several other misdemeanors and infractions for failing to comply with the New Mexico motor vehicle code and the U.S. Forest Service’s timber harvesting regulations. According to the criminal complaint, a U.S. Forest Service officer encountered Martinez in the Carson National Forest while Martinez was driving a pickup truck loaded with timber. The officer executed a traffic stop because the timber on Martinez’s truck was not properly tagged as required by law as a condition to lawfully harvest timber off of National Forest Systems lands. The officer determined that although Martinez had a timber removal permit, he was not in compliance with certain federal timber harvesting regulations.
During the traffic stop, the officer noted the smell of intoxicants coming from Martinez’s mouth as he talked, and observed that Martinez’s eyes were watery and blood-shot. In response to questioning by the officer, Martinez admitted he “was drinking a beer now,” and that he drank two beers before he was stopped. At the time, Martinez was concealing a 30-pack of beer that was missing 16 cans of beer under a coat on the front passenger seat of his truck. After Martinez failed standard field sobriety tests, the officer administered a preliminary breath test (PBT) to Martinez, which registered a breath alcohol content of .166. Thereafter, Martinez was given the opportunity to provide a breath sample at the New Mexico State Police office in Espanola, N.M. Although he was informed of the consequences of a refusal, Martinez refused to submit to a chemical test as required by New Mexico’s Implied Consent Act.
On Oct. 1, 2013, Martinez was charged in a four-count information with (1) aggravated driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor; (2) driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor; (3) driving with an open container of alcohol, an infraction; and (4) violating the terms and conditions of his timber harvesting permit, a Class B misdemeanor.
Today Martinez entered a guilty plea to Count 1 of a four-count superseding information charging him with aggravated driving under the influence, first offense. In entering his guilty plea, Martinez admitted that on Sept. 27, 2013, he was stopped by a U.S. Forest Service officer for failing to have a load tag on his timber-loaded truck while he was driving in the Carson National Forest. Martinez also admitted that he had been drinking beer before the stop and that he had an open container of beer in his truck cab when he was stopped. Martinez acknowledged that a PBT test confirmed that he had been drinking alcohol, and that he refused to take a breath test even though it meant that he could be charged with aggravated driving under the influence.
Immediately after entering his guilty plea, Martinez was sentenced to credit for the time he already has served in federal custody (four-days) followed by a year of supervised probation with special conditions. The special conditions of Martinez’s probation include the requirement that an ignition interlock device be placed on his vehicle for a year, that he attend DWI school and the Victims’ Impact Panel, and that he perform 24 hours of community service.
Special Agent in Charge Robin L. Poague of the Southwestern Region of the U.S. Forest Service said, “Federal regulations authorize Forest Service officials to enter orders permitting Forest Service officers to issue federal violation notices for violations of the state motor vehicle code on National Forest System lands and roads. This ensures consistent enforcement of the motor vehicle code throughout the state and across agencies. The current order authorizing Forest Service officers to issue federal violation notices in the Carson National Forest has been in place since May 2012. The prosecution of Martinez on this DUI charge was initiated pursuant to this authority.”
This case was investigated by the El Rito Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service, with assistance from the New Mexico State Police, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Pflugrath.