Todd Keagle prosecutors vehicular crimes cases for the Harris County District Attorney’s office. He says over the New Year’s weekend, 187 people were taken to jail in Harris County for alcohol-related offenses. That’s compared to 235 during the same period last year.
Keagle says there were also fewer repeat offenders.
“We saw 19 felony DWI’s over the weekend. In the same time period last year there were 25.”
Keagle believes fewer drunk drivers are hitting the road because of a beefed-up police presense. Grant money from TxDOT paid for police overtime. There were also “no refusal” efforts.
That’s when authorities get a search warrant for a blood draw when a driver refuses to take a field sobriety test.
“And I would like to hope that people are using their common sense when deciding if they’re going to drink, how they’re going to get home.”
But what has Keagle concerned is that one of the New Year’s arrests involved a fatality accident. It happened Monday afternoon in north Harris County.
For several years now, the Houston area has had the highest DWI fatality rate in the country.
“And so obviously the one loss of life overshadows any significant change in the numbers.”
As for future DWI enforcement efforts, Keagle says police will be out in force during the long MLK holiday weekend later this month. They’ll also look for drunk drivers during the upcoming rodeo cookoff.