Stevenson Benally
Stevenson Benally
FARMINGTON — It's becoming a twisted tradition.

A New Mexico State Police sergeant has arrested Stevenson Benally, a 35-year-old Kirtland man, two times on suspicion of drunken driving in the last two years.

Both the arrests were made near the 32 mile marker of U.S. Highway 64 during morning workday traffic.

On May 6, Sgt. James Rempe pulled Benally over for a registration violation shortly before 8 a.m.

Rempe reported the smell of alcohol on Benally and during a DWI investigation Benally failed two field-sobriety tests.

Court documents state that a breathalyzer showed Benally had a 0.11 blood-alcohol content, which is over the legal limit.

He was booked into jail where he is being held on a $50,000 cash-only bond set by Magistrate Judge Trudy Reed-Chase.

Benally has five DWI convictions.

His most recent conviction stemmed from a Nov. 2, 2010, arrest.

During that arrest, Rempe pulled Benally over on U.S. Highway 64 at 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday.

"It was the exact same location," Rempe said. "That's definitely unusual."

During both arrests, Benally said he had a hangover from drinking the night before and was on his way to purchase alcohol, Rempe said.

Rempe said New Mexico State Police in San Juan County have noticed an increase in daytime DWI arrests this year and are stepping up their enforcement between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

"We've seen an increase in daytime calls in reference to possible DWI, and we take all those calls seriously," he said. "We put an operating plan in place to be more vigilant."

It isn't uncommon for people suspected of DWI in the morning to be impaired from drinking the night before, Rempe said.

"Since they haven't had anything to drink since they woke up they think they are OK to drive a vehicle, but that's not the case," he said. "The only thing that's going to cure impairment is time,"

In 2013, New Mexico State police have made 42 arrests for suspicion of driving while intoxicated between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. The agency said it is also increasing DWI patrols during those hours.

Farmington police Sgt. Dave Monfils said Farmington police have made DWI arrests and responded to alcohol-related crashes during daytime hours this year, but Farmington police primarily focus on DWIs from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Rempe said people can expect increased traffic enforcement throughout San Juan County through Memorial Day Weekend.

New Mexico State Police have a DWI checkpoint planned for Saturday in San Juan County, according to a news release from the agency.

Ryan Boetel can be reached at rboetel@daily-times.com; 505-564-4644. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel.