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Chaves County deputy faces drunk driving charges

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A Chaves County Sheriff’s deputy faces drunk driving charges following a Sunday night incident.

Lt. Joel Ramirez, according to court records, faces one count each of aggravated driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, driving on the wrong side of the road, and having an open container inside his vehicle.

Court documents state that Ramirez, 46, of Dexter, entered a plea of not guilty to all three counts when he appeared in Chaves County Magistrate Court Monday. Judge E.J. Fouratt then released him on his own recognizance.

Undersheriff Charles Yslas confirmed Ramirez was off duty when, according to court records, he was pulled over by Sheriff’s deputies and Dexter police in the area of U.S. Highway 285 and Ojibwa Road.

Ramirez was reportedly pulled over in his Volkswagen Jetta after reports came in at 1:40 a.m. of a vehicle driving north from Artesia at a high rate of speed in the opposing lane of traffic and representing a possible danger to other vehicles on the road.

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When law enforcement located the vehicle, the Jetta came to a stop on the median of U.S. 285.

According to court records, when he was approached by deputies, Ramirez emitted the odor of alcohol, had bloodshot, watery eyes and slurred speech. A nearly empty bottle of alcohol was also discovered in the vehicle.

Court records state that when questioned, Ramirez said he had been coming from Artesia and admitted to driving on the wrong side of the road.

Roswell police were subsequently dispatched to the location to conduct the necessary field sobriety tests on Ramirez. According to court records, Ramirez refused a breathalyzer test.

Ramirez was then taken to the Chaves County Detention Center, where he was being held before Monday’s hearing.

Yslas said the Roswell Police Department is handling the investigation. He added that Ramirez has been placed on paid administrative suspension until at least later this week. Sheriff Mike Herrington will hold a hearing on the matter later this week.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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