DWI arrests went up over 50-percent during week-2 of the program instituted by Harris County DA Pat Lykos. Catherine Evans is chief of the Vehicular Crimes Section.
“For a total of five weekends from Thanksgiving through New Year’s weekend, we’re running a program in cooperation with the Houston Police Department; although, it is available county wide. So even other area law enforcement agencies besides HPD can bring suspects in that have been for driving while intoxicated. The officers have formed opinions that they were driving while intoxicated on alcohol, or even some other type of controlled substance.”
Evans says if those under arrest do not provide a breath specimen, the officer will get help in obtaining a search warrant in order to obtain a blood sample from the suspect.
“They could be involved in a collision and in speaking with that person, the officer forms the opinion that they may be intoxicated, may do some field sobriety test to reach that opinion. Sometimes we actually get calls from civilians who say ‘hey, there’s somebody all over the road here; something bad is about to happen’ and the officers are able to go in and intercept that particular person before they can cause an accident.”
DWI penalties range from intoxication assault to manslaughter if someone is killed by an impaired river. Evans says even a plain DWI could land someone in jail.
“It’s like playing with a loaded gun. Every time you get behind the wheel of a car and, it’s just not worth it. Folks who are getting behind the wheel thinking ‘look, I’m just going a few blocks home’. It’s just not worth it. The tragedy that you can cause your family and to the unsuspecting other folks on the road — don’t take that chance. Make a different choice.”
Those choices include a cab, public transportation or using a designated driver.