After trying ignition interlocks, policy makers in New Mexico have come to the right conclusion about repeat drink drivers: The focus should be on their alcohol use rather than just their driving. This approach has the twin virtues of allowing people to drive so that they can work and removing the vector of other public health and public safety threats (i.e., chronic drink drivers also commit other crimes under the influence).
However, New Mexico’s proposed approach of marking driver’s licences to indicate that someone may not purchase alcohol is pretty weak. People who are middle-aged and above almost never get carded. Your regular bar tender will never card you. A heavy drinker with a marked license could still easily get alcohol from family members and drinking buddies.
What’s tragic about this policy wheeze is that the solution is already known: Mandatory 24/7 sobriety with twice a day breath tests. In South Dakota, where the 24/7 approach was founded, over 99% of the more than 4 million conducted breath tests have been negative. Drink driving arrests, domestic violence arrests and rates of imprisonment have all fallen in the Mount Rushmore state, as have alcohol-involved vehicular homicides. Neighboring states are wisely copying the successful model of South Dakota.
New Mexico in this case *should* re-invent the wheel. Forget the licenses and go for 24/7 sobriety.