|Big Thicket Messenger - Local News
Stories Added - September 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
DPS launches crackdown
Big Thicket Messenger - September 2008
Federal, state and local transportation officials rallied at Texas Southern University recently to call attention to the growing problem f drunk driving in Harris County and across the state.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) joined Mothers Against Drunk Driving, local law enforcement and other community leaders to weigh alternatives for combating drunk driving, which is on the rise in Texas.
Texas continues to lead the nation in drunk driving traffic fatalities. During 2006, 1,354 motorists in Texas died in alcohol-impaired crashes where the driver had a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 or higher up 34 deaths prior to the previous year.
Despite improvements during 2006, an average of 17 motorists per month died in alcohol-related traffic crashes in Harris County.
The meeting preceded the national drunk-driving crackdown planned up until the Labor Day holiday.
TxDOT officials announced that thousands of state troopers and local law enforcement will be stepping up enforcement of the state’s DWI laws through September 1.
Last year, 3,979 drunk drivers were arrested during the two-week crackdown, up more than 700 arrests from the prior year. Preliminary data indicates 168 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes in Texas during August and September last year.
“Our Drink, Drive, Go to Jail campaign reminds motorists that if they drink and drive this Labor Day holiday, they will get arrested, which saves lives and prevents injuries,” said Carlos Lopez, TxDOT’s director of traffic operations. “Stay out of trouble and don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking.”
Convicted first-time DWI offenders can pay a fine of up to $2,000, lose their driver’s license for as long as a year, and serve 180 days in jail.
Safety officials say other costs associated with a drunk driving arrest and conviction can add up to or more than $10,000 for bail, legal fees, court appearances, court-ordered classes and vehicle insurance increases and other expenses.