Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Extra focus on stopping alcohol impaired driving now underway: Penalties can be costly

By: Tiara Richard, APD release
The Arlington Police Department has an important holiday message for motorists: Don’t drink and drive.
“If you’re planning to celebrate the holidays with alcoholic beverages, plan your travels in advance by designating a sober driver or calling a cab,” said Sgt. Steve Chao, who heads up the DWI Unit.
The fines, penalties and medical expenses far exceed the cost of a cab ride or pre-planned ride home.
With millions of drivers expected on U.S. roadways this season, the combination of holiday parties and alcohol can be a dangerous mix, officers say.
For a two-week period beginning Dec. 17 through Jan. 2, the DWI Task Force will focus efforts on identifying impaired drivers. This initiative also coincides with “No Refusal” operations with other law enforcement agencies in Tarrant County, including the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.
“The goal is to reduce the number of crashes through a combination of education and enforcement,” Chao said.
Across the country every year, more than 10,000 people die in alcohol related crashes. In Arlington, bar checks are up 34 percent and fatality crashes are down 46 percent thanks to the work of the DWI Task Force, patrol officers and the Arlington community.
Teaming up with local restaurants and bars, the Arlington DWI Task Force has focused its efforts on awareness and education this year. Education programs have gone into classrooms and APD is working with UT Arlington on a new student-driven initiative that provides safe, sober rides for impaired drivers.
To increase enforcement, the Arlington Police Department uses grant money to fund the cost of deploying more officers on city streets. Additionally, the “No Refusal” operation helps officers collect evidence to secure prosecution against drivers suspected of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
Messages like Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving are being incorporated into marketing campaigns being used to capture the attention of drivers this holiday season.
Sgt. Christopher Cook in the APD Office of Communication says publicizing DWI enforcement is “nearly as important as the enforcement itself.” If people have the perception that they’re going to get stopped and arrested, that might deter them from taking the risk, he said.
The Arlington Police Department is dedicated to safe streets and safe driving.
“Every time we stop a drunk driver, we potentially save a life,” Sgt. Chao said.
Let’s Talk. Be a designated driver or offer taxi cab service. Call 817-459-5792 and let’s talk about ways to stop drunk driving in Arlington.

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