DWI forfeiture, insurance changes among laws effective Tuesday

Starting New Year's Day in Curry County, you drink, you drive, you lose. And you could lose your car.

Tuesday is the effective date for a Curry County ordinance that allows law enforcers to impound a vehicle if the driver is someone who:

  • Has been arrested for a second or subsequent DWI offense.
  • Whose license has been revoked because of a DWI arrest or conviction prohibiting them from driving.
  • Is violating the conditions of an ignition interlock device.

The ordinance, passed unanimously on Nov. 20, declares vehicles driven by such offenders to be potentially deadly weapons and therefore eligible for a trip behind a tow truck to an impoundment lot.

The new law also establishes conditions and fees under which vehicles may be either returned to owners or permanently forfeited.

More details on the ordinance are available at http://www.cnjonline.com/news/countypassesdwiforfeitureordinance.html.

A copy of the ordinance may be obtained at http://www.currycounty.org/ordinances/2012-ordinances/.

Two new New Mexico state laws also go into effect as the New Year dawns.

One prohibits health insurers and health maintenance organizations from denying coverage for renewals of prescriptions for eyedrops. The prescription renewal must be authorized by a qualified provider and adequate notice must be given to the insurer or HMO. The notification period ranges from 23 days after the prescription date for 30-day renewal to 68 days after the prescription date for a 90-day renewal.

State Rep. George Munoz, D-Gallup, one of the law's sponsors, said he introduced the bill because patients, many of them elderly, have a hard time regulating eye-drop dosages.

"They would run out before the prescription was supposed to end," he said, "and they'd have to get a new prescription to get more."

Health insurers were reluctant to cover the new prescription, he said, but went along with the new law with the provision that an authorized health care provider must confirm that the new prescription is needed.

The other law places a space on vehicle registration forms that allows vehicle owners to donate $1 or $5 to the state's Veterans Enterprise Fund. The fund helps pay for operations of the New Mexico Veterans Services Department. The donation would be in addition to registration fees.

This law was one of three that New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed on Feb. 29, saying it would greatly help New Mexico's veterans, according to a news release from the veterans services department.

At that signing ceremony, the governor also signed a law that expands the definition of a veteran, and one that allows New Mexicans to donate a part of their state income tax refund to the Veterans' Enterprise Fund. The fund was established by an act passed by the 2011 New Mexico Legislature.

The governor said the fund was created in response to inquiries from New Mexicans on how they could help veterans.

"Now…they have this mechanism," the governor said.

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