It's estimated that for the past 25 years, about half of all deadly traffic accidents over the July 4th holiday are related to alcohol. In fact, Harris County tops the nation in the number of drunk driving related fatalities. The Department of Public Safety and other law enforcement agencies have received federal grants to increase effrorts to curb that fatal statistic this weekend. For the first time in our nation's history, the entire state will conduct a "No Refusal" program. That means:
"Police officers will be out in force and prosecutors will be teaming up with them, to get search warrants for any DWI offender who refuses to follow the law and give a breath sample, after being arrested for DWI."
Warren Diepraam is the Chief Vehicular Crimes Prosecutor for Montgomery County. He says you're basically at the mercy of the the law when you get stopped for DWI, but "No Refusal" puts more teeth into that situation.
"You will be given an opportunity to comply with the police officer's instructions, that field sobriety test, that's a voluntary breath test, but only if you refuse, then we will ask a judge to give us a search warrant to take blood."
A DWI arrest and conviction can cost upwards to $17,000 dollars or more when you throw in car towing, impoundment, bail, attorney fees, court costs and the hike in your insurance rates. Diepraam says the answer for plans this weekend is a no-brainer.
"If you don't want to face the thousands of dollars of a DWI arrest and get blood search warrants, just don't commit DWI. We want people to go out there and have fun this Fourth of July, but we want people to do it responsibly."
Pat Hernandez, KUHF News.