“No more victims” is the slogan of Mothers Against Drunk Driving — a renowned nonprofit organization that recently recognized two women with ties to Valencia County for their commitment to prevent drunk and drugged driving.  

Each year, MADD honors individuals from across the state who champion MADD’s mission at their annual Honoring Heroes event. This year, Ginny Adame, DWI coordinator for the village of Los Lunas/Valencia County and Barbara Romo, the 13th Judicial District attorney, were among the 15 awardees.  

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, everyday about 37 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes. The New Mexico Department of Public Safety’s website states that alcohol is involved in 40 percent of all fatal traffic crashes in New Mexico.  

“The work these men and women do every day should be recognized and honored. Drunk driving is a problem, and is unfortunately getting progressively worse each year — both in our state and nation-wide. The work to end drunk driving is as important as ever,” wrote MADD New Mexico Executive Director Katrina Latka in a press release. 

Adame received the Outstanding Dedication to Underage Drinking Prevention award, and Romo was recognized through the Outstanding Criminal Justice Prosecutor award.  

“I’m surprised and humbled,” said Romo of receiving the award. “I think officers, first responders and people on the front lines deserve these awards way more than I do, but I’m just happy to be in a position to do whatever I can to make a small impact on the issue while I can.” 

Barbara Romo, pictured, was recognized through the Outstanding Criminal Justice Prosecutor award.

Romo, whose office represents Cibola, Sandoval and Valencia counties, currently volunteers with MADD by serving on their Walk Like MADD committee, which she has been doing for almost five years. Walk Like MADD is one of the biggest fundraising events the organization holds annually, which consists of a 5K walk to raise awareness and money for the cause.  

“I’ve been able to get my office very involved in MADD and we have a big participation in (Walk Like MADD) every year,” said Romo. “We stress in our office that it’s important to show the community we don’t just want to prosecute impaired drivers, we want to be part of the solution to prevent future occurrences and future victims.” 

Romo has taken a number of steps to champion MADD’s mission in her office and says she emphasizes prevention more than anything.  

“I try to make sure we have a senior prosecutor who oversees the DWIs because what happens ordinarily is we give DWIs and domestic violence cases to brand new attorneys because they’re misdemeanors,” said Romo. “When you think about it, it’s kind of crazy because they’re some of the most important cases we have. So I made sure when I took office to have senior prosecutors dedicated to helping the younger ones to make sure they are handled correctly.”  

Romo also made it mandatory in her office for DWI offenders to attend victim impact panels. She said it used to be mandatory on judgements, but has since become less common.  

“That, to me, is something that is very important, so I made it a policy in my district to make sure that language got put back on all our plea agreements and sentencing so that the victim impact panel can continue to be an effective tool,” said Romo.  

In 2009, Romo herself was arrested on a DWI charge, which she said was a result of burnout from taking on too many cases and working herself too hard early on in her career. Romo said this experience changed her focus and made her realize what a widespread problem alcohol and substance abuse is in society. 

“The stress of my job is not an excuse, but everybody has stressors in their life and we are taught from the time we’re little, whether it’s from family, social media or TV, that alcohol solves your problems, and we all have a lot of problems,” said Romo. “So I just wanted to make it a priority, especially now in my position, to make as much of an impact as I can and emphasize the importance of self care and that alcohol is not a solution to stress.” 

Romo said to prevent drunk and drugged driving, it’s important to talk to youth early on about substance misuse.  

“My mom talked to us about drinking, but not until we were teenagers. That might have been OK back in my day, but now because they are exposed to so much through media and social media I think that you really have to get to them earlier,” said Romo.  

Adame, a certified prevention specialist, also emphasized the importance of early intervention and prevention. Through the Los Lunas and Valencia County DWI program, Adame coordinates a number of efforts to educate the community on the dangers of drinking and drugged driving, especially in youth.  

Ginny Adame, pictured, received the Outstanding Dedication to Underage Drinking Prevention award.

“What we’re seeing is that youth are using substances as an unhealthy way of coping with things,” Adame said. “If we intervene as early as possible and get kids back on track, then maybe we won’t see them as adults in our program. 

“Once they’re adults, it’s more challenging because there’s a lot more things that have taken place in their lives that make it harder to get back on track. Not that it’s impossible, but the earlier you can get involved in prevention work, the better.” 

Adame said it’s important to recognize that we all impact youth in some way, and connecting youth to positive role models is one of the best things the community can do to help prevent underage drinking and drug use. Making youth feel connected and like they belong is a really powerful thing, she said, and giving them opportunities to volunteer and connect with their community also goes a long way.  

“Being valued and respected, having their voices heard and being given the opportunity to contribute are all things that we know build resilience in our youth,” said Adame. “They’re our next generation of leaders, so if we overlook the fact that they’re our future, then we are really making a huge mistake.”  

Adame said educating the community about DWI is crucial because a lot of people feel like it’s not that big of a deal or that it could never happen to them. 

“A lot of us go about our lives without really thinking much about it, and maybe not enough about it when we drink out socially,” she said. “There’s so many things that happen in this world that maybe aren’t preventable, but this is very preventable. It’s more horrific, I think, for people to experience something that didn’t have to happen.” 

Adame said it’s an honor and a privilege to receive this award from MADD, especially when considering the amazing caliber of people they recognize. 

“I have always been drawn to community work and trying to make the community a safer place,” she said. “I don’t know if it always feels like you’re making a difference, but you always feel like you have the opportunity to, and a change in even one person’s life can change so many.” 

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Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.