Dear East Mountain and Estancia Valley Community:

Somehow, despite many months of heartache and loss, we are in the midst of the winter holiday season once again. For many of us, this holiday season will be bittersweet, as we enjoy special times with some loved ones and mourn the loss of others.

We have lost so many people in our community, that I am going to ask you to promise that you would do what you can to prevent another loss. The purpose of this letter is to remind you that, as beautiful as the holiday season is, it can also be deadly, as many people still think that it is acceptable to drive a vehicle after consuming alcohol.

In July 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that one alcohol-related death occurs every 52 minutes in the United States. Alcohol-impaired driving kills more than 10,000 deaths each year. According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation, 175 people died in drunk driving crashes in our state in 2019.

The loss of lives due to alcohol-impaired driving continues to be unacceptable.

DWI isn’t a simple mistake. It is the result of a series of poor CHOICES. Drunk driving is the most commonly committed violent crime in our nation. It isn’t an error in judgment. It isn’t a mistake. It is a CRIME, and it destroys lives and families.

Dear friends, as you prepare to close 2021, think about your families, friends, co-workers and community. Imagine how devastated they would be if you were killed in an alcohol-involved crash. Think about the impact you might have on your family and other families if you make the irresponsible decision to drink and drive.

The Smart Choice Ride designated driving program continues to operate on Friday and Saturday evenings, beginning at 8pm, although we will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We will resume service on New Year’s Eve. For more information, call 505-705-0332.

There are some safety measures that we should all remember:

  1. If you drink—don’t drive. Just. Don’t.
  2. If you know someone else has been drinking, don’t let him or her get behind the wheel.
  3. Be extra cautious if you are driving during early morning and late evening hours, realizing that the number of alcohol-impaired drivers is higher during those times than others.
  4. If you suspect someone is driving while impaired, please contact your local dispatch center: Torrance County Dispatch at 505-384-9631, Santa Fe County Regional Emergency Communications Center at 505-428-3710, or Bernalillo County Emergency Communications at 505-798-7000. Of course, if you believe there is imminent danger, do not hesitate to call 911.

Also know that law enforcement agencies in Torrance County and the surrounding area will be conducting saturation patrols to keep your community safer.

There are so many things we can’t control. As we move into 2022, let us take control of our lives and NOT drink and drive. 2022 needs you!

Dr. Tracey Master

Torrance County DWI Prevention Program Coordinator