ENDING DWI- One Car At A Time: RAC STOP Coordinates Sobriety Checkpoints & Saturation Patrols

Sheriff Deputy talking with motorist at recent sobriety checkpoint near Hernandez. VDP image

ENDING DWI- One Car At A Time: RAC STOP Coordinates Sobriety Checkpoints And Saturation Patrols


ESPAÑOLA – On May 2 the Rio Arriba County Substance Treatment Outreach Prevention Program (RAC STOP), under the umbrella of the Rio Arriba County DWI Planning Council and in Collaboration with Santa Fe DWI and the City of Española Police Department, coordinated a regional sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols in an effort to reduce DWI incidents and bring public attention to the importance of not drinking and driving.

Checkpoints were located on the south end of Española on southbound Riverside and in Hernandez on the northbound US 84/285 highway. Over a thousand motorists passed through the checkpoints during the evening. At the Española stop alone police officers spoke with 934 motorists. From that group 11 vehicles were pulled aside for further inspection resulting in 1 seized vehicle, 4 sobriety tests/released, 1 DWI arrest (fourth offense), 1 tint violation and 1 driver without a license.

Jerome Arellano, Chairman for the Joint Taskforce explained that the event was a collaborative operation under the joint task force with multiple police agencies from Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties to conduct multiple checkpoints and saturation patrols. Arellano said “We are doing this to bring awareness to the community on the effects of drinking and driving and raise the perception of risk from drinking and driving.”

Louise Sanchez, Director of RAC STOP added that the joint task force is wanting to let the community and county know that they are working to create a safe environment and that they are doing this in a collaborative effort with other communities as far away as the city of Santa Fe to participate.

“We want to start educating our community that law enforcement is out there. Just give them the perception of the risk involved for those who drink and drive” said Sanchez. She added “We want to work together to keep our families and friends, our loved ones safe and bring the message to the community that drinking and driving is not something we want. It has been a social norm and we are trying to change the social norm.”

Sanchez stated that Rio Arriba County has been coordinating similar sobriety checkpoints since 2007 and have seen great results by working collaboratively between agencies and communities.

Thirty-two police officers ran the two checkpoints and conducted the saturation patrols. They came from six different agencies. Agencies involved were:

  • Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office
  • City of Española Police Department
  • New Mexico State Police
  • Santa Clara Police Department
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office
  • City of Santa Fe Police Department

In addition to law enforcement, Rio Arriba youth got involved through the RAC STOP Youth Coalition-Generation Hope program. 7 teens from the Generation Youth Coalition-Generation Hope program participated at the checkpoints. The youth helped to organize and distributing information to drivers as they passed through the checkpoints.

The Santa Claran Hotel 7 Casino also supported the event by providing boxed lunches for all police officers and volunteers who were working the event.

RAC STOP confirmed that saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints would continue throughout the summer months.

See below for additional images from the event.

RAC STOP Youth Coalition-Generation Hope program. VDP image