HOBBS, N.M. - A Stripes convenience store in Hobbs, New Mexico, was given a hefty fine and had their liquor license suspended for more than a week because they sold alcohol to a customer that had been drinking and driving.
The Stripes on 808 E. Marland Blvd. in Hobbs was held accountable after serving alcohol to an intoxicated driver last year. After leaving the store the drunk driver, Robert Allan Armacost, drove his GMC pickup and was involved in a car accident with a semi truck, that subsequently caused Armacost's death.
As a recent effort to crack down on drunk driving, the Stripes was fined $12,000 by the State of New Mexico.
Rito Perez, a resident of Hobbs, had strong thoughts regarding the issue stating, "I don't think it's right to sell beer to people that look intoxicated, period."
Currently, New Mexico has four cases involving establishments selling alcohol to customers that were later involved in drunk driving deaths. Mike Unthank of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department gave this statement on why these penalties are so important.
"Establishments that serve alcohol irresponsibly and unlawfully that threaten public safety will be held accountable by the state. Penalties like these are a critical part of Governor Susana Martinez's plan to crack down on alcohol-related fatalities and incidents in New Mexico," Unthank said.
Along with the $12,000 fine, the store also had their liquor license suspended for eight days including the weekend, when they make the majority of their profits.
"They make a lot more money just on taxes off of that beer than $12,000. That's just pocket change to these stores," Perez said.
Robert McEntyre, the spokesman for the Alcohol and Gaming Division of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department, said, "$12,000 in many cases doesn't really hurt these businesses. It's the suspension days that really cause the pain in some of these places."
Officials say that drunk driving related deaths happen too often in New Mexico and that needs to change.