In a troubling development, as we head into the summer months, Bexar County law enforcement agencies and court records show that the month of May saw a record 60 people were arrested on felony DWI charges. More than a third of the charges were for driving while intoxicated, but they included at least one charge for intoxication assault and driving while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle. The only good news was that there were no May arrests for charges related to fatal drunk driving incidents.
Who Was Arrested?
The May arrests, which were more numerous than the 44 felony DWI arrests reported in April, broke down as follows:
- Driving while intoxicated — third incident or more, which is a third-degree felony: 40
- Driving while intoxicated with child passenger under 15 years old, which is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison: 19
- Intoxication assault, which is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison: 1
These troubling numbers are not exclusive to San Antonio. Back in April, the Easter holiday weekend in Houston and Harris County saw a total of 134 DWIs between midnight Friday through midnight Monday. These inflated numbers explain why the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has teamed up with local law enforcement throughout the state to crack down on drunk drivers all over the state. The crackdown began on Thursday, May 30, and officials say it will continue all summer long. TxDOT has established joint task forces with law enforcement agencies throughout the state to be on alert for anyone who is driving while intoxicated and to get them off the roads.
A Statewide Crackdown on DWI Will Last All Summer
Law enforcement agencies and TxDOT plan to keep an eye on all of the special events scheduled throughout the state during the summer and deploy extra troops to make sure they can be proactive and get drunk drivers off Texas roads before they can injure themselves or others. That means extra patrols, which means a greater likelihood of getting caught, which means fewer chances for dangerous people to do some major damage as their 2,000-pound vehicle/weapon hurtles down the highway at upwards of 60 miles per hour.
In many ways, the current crackdown by the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) and the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department is a continuation of a crackdown that started at the 2018 Fiesta, when police arrested 221 drivers during that 10-day event. Most of that group were first-time offenders whose blood-alcohol level of 0.08. which is a misdemeanor, although there were also a large number of DWI arrests with a blood-alcohol level of o.15 and almost as many who were arrested for their third DWI or more, both of which are felonies, as were the five drivers arrested for DWI with a passenger under 15 in the vehicle.
Driving Drunk Could Cost You Dearly
SAPD recently released a statement noting that their DWI Task Force works 24/7, 365 days per year, and they have extra officers on patrol for drunk drivers from Wednesday through Sunday every week, thanks to a TxDOT grant-funded program called STEP.
Safety advocates are trying to warn those who choose to drink and then get behind the wheel of their car what they have to lose. Police and MADD note that DWIs are ultimately always preventable. All it takes is preparation, by designating a driver or putting aside money for a taxi or bus or by scheduling a ride using a ridesharing app like Uber or Lyft. Failing to do the right thing can cost a drunk driver a lot including spending loads of money for attorney fees, or having to install and pay for an ignition interlock system, or having your license suspended. It’s also possible you could end up in jail or prison, especially if your actions result in an accident in which someone is injured or killed. This is not only true of those who drive drunk; thanks to Texas Dram Shop Laws, those businesses or individuals who enable drunk driving could possibly pay if they have had the opportunity to a drunk driver and didn’t, or if they verserved someone they knew was about to drive.
Texas has a huge drunk driving problem, and it’s good to see state and local officials cracking down. Watch out if you choose to drive under the influence this summer; there is a greater chance than ever that you will get caught and pay a serious price.