Albuquerque police arrested one of New Mexico’s tough-on-crime lawmakers on suspicion of driving under the influence during a routine DWI checkpoint operation early Sunday morning.
Police arrested Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, around 1 a.m. Sunday on Paseo del Norte, KOB-TV reported. That report said Youngblood told police she was heading home from a friend’s house. Officers said her eyes were bloodshot and she smelled of alcohol, though she told police she did not have anything to drink.
She refused to take a Breathalyzer test to determine her blood-alcohol level.
Police booked Youngblood into the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center shortly after. She was released on her own recognizance around 5:15 a.m. and is scheduled for an arraignment June 13.
Efforts to reach Youngblood by phone Sunday were unsuccessful. She did not respond to an email seeking comment late Sunday afternoon.
But Youngblood released a statement to KOB-TV that said, “As a legislator, I have always taken drinking and driving seriously. While I regret the situation altogether, I most definitely regret not taking the Breathalyzer test. I look forward to bringing this matter to a swift and just conclusion.”
A member of the state House since 2013 representing a district on Albuquerque’s west side, Youngblood has been an ally of Gov. Susana Martinez and earned a reputation as a crime-fighting conservative. She sponsored measures to reinstate the death penalty for certain crimes. And she has backed a proposal to toughen the penalties for repeat drunken drivers.
Youngblood, 41, is up for re-election this year. After running unopposed in 2014 and 2016, she faces Democrat Karen Bash in the general election in November.
Reached Sunday evening, New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi did not comment on whether the GOP will seek another candidate to run on the general election ballot. It could replace Youngblood if she withdraws from the race after the primary election on June 5.
“The Republican Party of New Mexico believes in our DWI laws and that those laws are necessary to keep us all safe,” he said in a text message. “Driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is never acceptable for anyone.”
Her most recent Facebook update is a video highlighting a job fair she co-sponsored in Albuquerque on Saturday afternoon.
In a 2014 candidate questionnaire, Youngblood said she had never been charged with a crime.
Andrew Oxford of The New Mexican contributed to this report.