Traffic crackdown on DWI, speeding gets early start on Friday
By MONIQUE O. MADAN
The Fourth of July is a week away, but law enforcement agencies in North Texas and statewide say their holiday activities will begin right away.
Starting Friday and running through July 7, police and state troopers will be cracking down on drunken drivers and speeders and looking for any sign of destructive driving.
“We’ll saturate all high-risk locations,” Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Mark Tackett said. “Specifics change area by area, but troopers know where all the crashes occur.”
According to AAA of Texas, 2.4 million Texans will be on the roads for the Fourth of July weekend. Regional spokesman Doug Shupe said this is the time of year “when people just want to visit their families.”
About 32 percent of drivers this year will depart on Wednesday to make it in time for the fireworks the next day, Shupe said, which might lead to clogged highways.
“It’s going to be busy,” he said. “It always is.”
Garland police plan to monitor roads leading in and out of Dallas such as Forest Lane, Garland Road and Belt Line Road as part of their Impaired Driver Mobilization project. The project will run through the Fourth of July weekend, when officials said they will have even tighter patrols.
“Extra officers have been paid to work extra hours those nights to keep our citizens safe,” said Officer Joe Harn, a spokesman for the Garland Police Department. “We’ll be anywhere alcohol is served, anywhere with a night life.”
The Texas Department of Transportation says the Independence Day weekend is traditionally one of the state’s deadliest.
Last year during that time period, DPS troopers made 1,294 DWI arrests. Troopers also issued approximately 13,700 speeding tickets and more than 2,200 seat belt and child safety seat citations.
Several North Texas law enforcement agencies, including police departments in Irving and Grand Prairie and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, will take part in the No Refusal campaign.
The effort requires suspected drunken drivers to take a breath test or provide a blood sample. Those who refuse will be arrested and a warrant will be obtained for a blood sample.
From Jan. 1 through May 31, the Dallas County district attorney’s office charged 2,796 people with misdemeanor DWI, 21 people with intoxication assault and four people with intoxication manslaughter. It filed several other cases, including aggravated assault, criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter, where officials said alcohol was the causal factor in the vehicle crashes.
But it’s not always alcohol that’s the problem. Shupe with AAA said “an unrestrained pet can become a projectile” in a crash, and recommends seat belts for the animals. “Our goal is to get people — and pets — to their destination safely,” he said.
Tackett said good road safety starts with the basics.
“The trick … is wearing your seat belts, even in the back seats,” the trooper said. “Minimize distractions, like cellphone usage. If it’s important, pull over, put it in the glove box. And if you’re drinking, designate a sober driver.”
Arlington police spokeswoman Tiara Richard said officers there will be on extra patrol beginning at 8 p.m. Wednesday through midnight July 7.
“By being on the streets, making those traffic stops, hopefully we’ll prevent someone from taking someone else’s life,” Richard said.
“It doesn’t have to happen,” she said. “The toughest thing is that these tragedies are completely preventable.”