Drunk drivers beware: Troopers on DWI patrol during July 4 period

If your plans to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday include drinking and driving, they should include a trip to the county detention center, as state and local law enforcement will be on the lookout for violators during the next several days.The Texas Department of Public Safety have increased DWI patrols for a nine-day period which includes Wednesday, according to state officials, with troopers focusing DWI patrols in high-risk locations at times when alcohol-related crashes are most frequent.“Plan ahead. If you are drinking, make sure you have a designated driver or some other form of transportation,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said. “Otherwise, you could be making a very expensive or even fatal mistake.”The enhanced patrols that target impaired driving are funded through a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation.DPS troopers made 1,406 DWI arrests during the July 4 enforcement effort last year, with 575 of those arrests a direct result of the increased patrols. Last year, during this time period, DPS enforcement also resulted in nearly 18,000 speeding citations, 3,390 seat belt/child safety seat citations, 920 fugitive arrests and 656 felony arrests, according to DPS officials.DPS troopers won't be the only law enforcement officers on the lookout for violators during the holiday, either.Both the Big Spring Police Department and the Howard County Sheriff's Department will have patrols paying close attention to motorists during the Independence Day holiday.“If you get pulled over and you've been drinking, don't expect our officers to cut you any kind of slack at all,” Sgt. Tony Everett, public information officer with the BSPD, said. “They will have zero tolerance for motorists who choose to drink and drive.”Sheriff Stan Parker echoed those sentiments, saying getting behind the wheel while intoxicated will land drivers a one-way trip to the county detention center.“This isn't some sort of joke,” Parker said. “These are people's lives. These are their families. If you get stopped and you've been drinking, you're going to be in a world of trouble. Be smart about it and have a designated driver.”The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the July 4 holiday ranks No. 1 nationally for alcohol-related fatal crashes. According to TxDOT, more than 1,000 Texans are killed each year as a result of impaired drivers and Texas is frequently ranked as the nation’s deadliest for impaired driving deaths.“The goal of our enforcement effort is to save lives and make traveling in Texas safer for residents and visitors during the July 4th holiday,” said McCraw.