Texas leads the nation in alcohol related crashes and fatalities. In 2011, spring accounted for more than a quarter of all alcohol-related traffic crashes in Texas, more than any other season according to TxDOT. It's launched a public safety campaign to let motorists know of the affect alcohol has on driving.
Capt. Larry Baimbridge is with the Traffic Enforcement Division of the Houston Police Department. He says state law makes it illegal for anyone with a Blood Alcohol Content, or BAC of 0.08 or higher, to get behind the wheel.
"If a driver is stopped and they're found to have a BAC over the legal limit, they will be taken to jail and they will charged with Driving While Intoxicated. Many people don't realize that a DWI arrest and conviction can cost them more than $17,000. The fees associated with a DWI include your car being towed and impounded, the bail to get out of jail, the attorney fees, the court costs and increased insurance fees."
Laura Dean-Mooney with Texas AgriLife Extension Service, giving instruction to the "Watch UR BAC" program
He says last year Houston Police made more than 6,500 arrests for driving while intoxicated.
"Our message is don't risk it, it's not worth it. If you've had a few drinks, find another way home. Do not get behind the wheel. Buzz driving is still drunk driving."
Helping TxDOT spread the message is the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and its "Watch UR BAC" program, to promote alcohol awareness and the dangers of impaired driving. Laura Dean-Mooney is program coordinator:
"This is a DWI prevention simulator. It's not to teach people how to drive drunk, it's to show them a fun way to get a serious message across. We have them wear the impaired vision goggles, find their car which is a little more difficult once they have those goggles on, because it distorts their vision, just like it would if you were drinking alcohol. Every time someone new starts the game, we start it over on our computer. But in real life if they chose to drive drunk, they hit, kill or injure someone, there's no restart button."
People often don't realize that a couple of drinks can slow their reaction time, and reduce their ability to properly gauge speed or distance. She adds, always plan ahead for a sober ride home. TxDOT's link to help people find safe rides can be found at www.soberrides.org.