In 2013, Spring Break DUI-alcohol related fatalities in Texas were up over 23 percent compared to Texas Spring Break 2012. So with the 2014 Spring Break on the horizon, it's more important than ever for motorists to be aware of roadway safety. That's why the Beaumont Police Department is joining forces with other law enforcement agencies across Texas and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to eliminate drunk driving. The associated media campaign will kick off this week and run through the end of March. Extra officers will be out in force throughout the city of Beaumont from March 7, 2014 to March 23, 2014.
The 2014 Texas Spring Break traffic safety campaign's key message is "DWI Hangovers Don't Go Away." This slogan is designed to caution young adults to think twice before they drink and drive, by reminding them of the severe and long-lasting consequences. Driving while intoxicated can result in driver license revocation, time in jail, financial headaches, career derailment, social isolation, physical injuries, and even death.
The legal limit in Texas for intoxication is .08 BAC (blood or breath alcohol concentration.) However, when a law enforcement officer has probable cause, based on driver's behavior, drivers can be arrested with a BAC below .08. If a driver is stopped for driving under the influence of alcohol, they may face up to $17,000 in fines and fees --an estimate based on legal fees, fines, impoundment and other costs.
Beaumont Police Department and TxDOT remind drivers to always plan ahead for a sober ride. For more "DWI Hangovers Don't Go Away" campaign details, visit the TxDOT website at http://www.txdot.gov/driver/sober-safe/college-young-adult.html .
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) also plans to increase DWI patrols from March 7 through March 23, which coincides with one of the busiest Spring Break periods in Texas. During this effort, DPS troopers will focus on DWI patrols in high-risk locations at times when alcohol-related crashes are most frequent. The enhanced patrols that target intoxicated drivers are funded by a Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) grant.
“The decision to drink and drive during Spring Break – or any time – can often lead to disastrous and deadly consequences,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Taking impaired drivers off Texas roadways during Spring Break is a top priority for the department, and we also call on the public to do their part and designate a sober driver or find alternate transportation if they plan to drink alcohol.”
During last year’s Spring Break enforcement period, DPS troopers made more than 1,000 DWI arrests, and approximately 226 were the direct result of the increased patrols funded by the grant. DPS enforcement also resulted in more than 11,400 speeding citations, 1,600 seat belt/child safety seat tickets and about 12,000 other citations. In addition, troopers made 552 fugitive arrests and 463 felony arrests during this time period.
The drinking age in Texas is 21, and any driver under that age with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system can be charged with breaking the law. Additional troopers will also be patrolling in areas with high concentrations of Spring Break activity.
DPS offers the following tips for safe travel during the Spring Break holiday:
* Slow down – especially in bad weather, construction areas, heavy traffic and unfamiliar areas.
* Eliminate distractions while driving, including the usage of mobile devices.
* Buckle up everyone in the vehicle – it’s the law.
* Don't drive fatigued, and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
* Drive defensively, as holiday travel may present additional challenges.
* Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained before your trip begins.
* Slow down or move over for tow trucks and police, fire, EMS and TxDOT vehicles stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated – it’s the law.
* Avoid travel to Mexico. (U.S. citizens who do travel to Mexico should always check the U.S. Department of State website for the latest information regarding security issues in Mexico, and they should register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program by visiting http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_970.html.)