Local law enforcement agencies have been cracking down on intoxicated drivers over the holidays with one-third of the arrests over a recent, four-day span being for driving while intoxicated charges.
From Dec. 30 through Jan. 2, Hidalgo County agencies made 181 arrests, and 59 of those, or 33% of the total, were for DWI.
Lt. Christopher Olivares, public information officer for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said that anytime law enforcement agencies can reduce alcohol-related crashes or fatalities, it is a success.
“I don’t believe, at least with us within the county, I don’t think we had any alcohol-related fatalities or alcohol-related crashes during the New Year holiday,” Olivares said.
Olivares added that he has noticed a significant improvement in drivers exercising their options when it comes to drinking over the holidays, particularly in the presence of rideshare programs such as Uber and Lyft.
“Due to the fact that we now have Uber and other types of advertisements and through social media, as far as making sure you don’t drink and drive, or get a designated driver, I think that plays a big part as far as reducing the arrests throughout the county,” Olivares said. “We’re always going to increase our patrol presence throughout the county. We’ll always be there to support our local, federal and county partners. Our goal is to reduce crashes and fatalities, especially as it relates to alcohol.”
Ana Verley, victim services specialist for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, said her organization advocates for high law enforcement visibility at all times throughout the year.
“Ideally, we would like to see fewer arrests,” Verley said. “We would like to see more people being responsible, obviously, and not drinking and driving. We’d like to see more people taking public transportation, taking an Uber or a Lyft or a cab, or designating a driver.”
“The thing is that the higher the arrests, the fewer drunk drivers on our roads, so that’s a good thing,” Verley continued.
According to Verley, a person dies as a result of drunk driving every 50 minutes. Statistics on the MADD website, madd.org, show that over 300,000 people drive drunk every day.
“We’d like to see the number of (drunk driving) arrests go down because people are being more responsible,” Verley said. “If that’s not happening, then our law enforcement getting drunk drivers off the road is a good thing.”