It's never a good idea to drink and drive, but law enforcement officials say it will be particularly foolish this weekend.
As it has in past years, the Texas Department of Public Safety will increase DWI patrols during the Labor Day holiday weekend, officials said. DPS troopers will focus DWI patrols in high-risk locations at times when alcohol-related crashes are most frequent.
During the Labor Day enforcement effort last year, DPS troopers made more than 2,000 DWI arrests and approximately 550 of those were the direct result of the increased patrols, officials said.
Last year during this same time period, DPS enforcement resulted in more than 25,000 speeding citations, 4,368 seat belt/child safety seat citations and 4,057 no insurance tickets. In addition, troopers made 1,409 fugitive arrests, 958 felony arrests and 882 drug arrests during routine patrol operations.
The enhanced patrols that target impaired drivers are funded through a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation.
“As the result of this grant, our troopers will be able to increase patrols on our roadways, which will make the roads safer for all travelers.” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Drinking and driving is always a concern during holidays, and getting intoxicated drivers off our roads saves lives.”
Seven people died in alcohol-related crashes on Texas highways during the Labor Day holiday period in 2011, the fewest number of fatalities since 2003. Officials credit increase law enforcement presence as at least part of the reason for the decrease.
DPS offers the following tips for safe travel during the Labor Day holiday:
• Don’t drink and drive. Designate a driver or take a cab.
• Eliminate distractions, and don’t text while driving.
• Buckle up everyone in the vehicle – it’s the law.
• Slow down, especially in bad weather, construction areas and heavy traffic.
• Slow down or move over for tow trucks and police, fire and emergency medical service vehicles stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated.
• Don’t drive fatigued.
• Drive defensively, as holiday travel may present additional challenges.
• Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained before your trip begins.
More alcohol-related crashes occur between 2 a.m. and 2:59 a.m. than in any other hour of the day, and more crashes happen on Saturday than on any other day of the week, officials said.