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Witness Tackles Drunken Driving Suspect
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A suspected drunken driver was hogtied by a New Mexico man after he witnessed the driver barely avoiding multiple head-on collisions while driving down a stretch of highway. The stretch of highway has now become known for multiple drunken driving issues and traffic fatalities, according to officials.

On Sunday night, Justin Canuto was allegedly seen driving south in the north lanes of U.S. 550. The driver is 22 and was confronted by multiple witnesses when he pulled over in front of a convenient store. The witnesses followed him to the store.


During the confrontation, Canuto was belligerent and then tried to escape. One witness then tackled Canuto and hogtied him until sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene, according to San Juan County Sheriff’s Sgt. Al Jamison. Canuta was then charged with drunken driving.

“They were all very adamant that they wanted something to happen,” Jamison said of the witnesses.

Deputies said that they do not encourage witnesses tying up drunken drivers but they also said that no charges have been filed against the witness who tied Canuto until officers arrived on scene.

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“I think they were trying to save lives, and if you look at that intent, I’ll stand behind them every day,” Sheriff Ken Christesen said.

Hours following Navajo Nation, where state and county officials met in Nageezi to talk about the drunken driving problems on U.S. 550 from Bloomfield to Cuba in the northwestern part of the state, Canuto was arrested. A portion of the road travels through the Navajo reservation.

Six have died on the four-lane stretch of highway over a six-week period. That number includes three deaths on January 1 in two accidents that were unrelated.

Local law enforcement agencies have ramped up patrols as a response to the recent incidents. On January 8, Navajo Nation officials also joined the effort as they passed resolutions asking for better law enforcement presence in that area.

At one time, New Mexico was notorious for having the highest number of DWI fatalities per capita, but that number has dropped 35 percent over the past couple of years.

The governor is pushing a series of legislative measures in response to the rash of deadly accidents that occurred in November. The measures are also in response to reports of people being arrested multiple times for the same crime. The measures include a vehicle seizure program across the state for people with more than one DWI arrest and tougher penalties for repeat offenders.


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