An Arizona lawmaker who backed legislation to beef up penalties for repeat drunk drivers was arrested early Sunday morning on the suspicion of driving under the influence.
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.
Youngblood refused the Breathalyzer test and was later booked into the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center.
Though the publication was unable to reach Youngblood for comment by phone, the Republican later released a statement to KOB-TV denying the charge:
“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.”
Youngblood has made a name for herself as a “tough-on-crime” conservative, sponsoring legislation that would reinstate the death penalty for certain crimes and supporting a measure that called for harsher penalties for repeat drunk drivers.
After assuming a seat in the state House in 2013, Youngblood ran unopposed in 2014 and 2016, but this year the 41-year-old is up against Democrat Karen Bash.
Whether or how the recent arrest will affect her campaign remains to be seen.
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.”