NM Court clarifies DWI arrest rules for police

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The New Mexico Supreme Court is giving police more leeway in drunken driving investigations.

The court on Thursday concluded that DWI cases will not be subject to a legal rule that generally prohibits police from arresting a misdemeanor suspect without a warrant unless the officer witnesses the offense.

In New Mexico, drunken driving is a misdemeanor until a fourth conviction, which makes it a felony.

The justices overturned a district court's decision to toss out a drunken driving charge against a Santa Fe man. He was arrested at his home without a warrant. A shopping mall employee had seen the man staggering around a parking lot trying to get into his van. Police were called and they went to the man's home.