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Transportation

Houston-Area Communities Get Help With DWI Enforcement This Holiday

The Houston-Galveston Area Council will have its DWI Task Force on the road this holiday season. The effort is designed to help smaller communities keep drunk drivers off the roads.

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Sign reads, “DWI, You can’t afford it.”

Figures show that Harris County currently leads the nation in the number of drunk driving fatalities. Two-hundred and three people were killed in 2014.

And it’s not just a big-city problem.

Jeff Kaufman, with the Houston-Galveston Area Council, says crashes also happen on rural roads and suburban streets, but small-town police departments often don’t have the resources for large-scale DWI enforcement.

He says grant money from TxDOT will help those departments during the holidays.

“This was an opportunity for some of these smaller agencies, whom maybe either don’t have the numbers per se to qualify for a grant on their own, or perhaps even have some staffing issues that would even prohibit the administration of such a grant,” explains Kaufman.

H-GAC is distributing funds from a TxDOT STEP grant. That money is used for selective traffic enforcement during busy holiday weekends. Sixteen departments in an eight-county region will use that money to pay for extra DWI patrols over Christmas and New Year’s.

Kaufman says the money will be used to cover overtime. He’s expecting they’ll spend between $20,000 and $25,000.

“Unlike a speeding ticket which might take about ten minutes to process if you pull someone over, a DWI is a very involved process,” says Kaufman. “It takes upwards of three hours sometimes just to process a single event.”

Kaufman says they want to remind holiday revelers that even a first-offense DWI can add up to about $17,000 in fines and expenses.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

News Anchor

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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