The Houston-Galveston Area Council has announced that its Regional DWI Task Force, which consists of 16 law enforcement agencies throughout the Houston-Galveston area, will be out in force during the holidays to cut down on driving while intoxicated (DWI). This is the third year for this Task Force, which is funded through a Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) grant awarded by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). This initiative provides overtime funds for agencies to provide enhanced DWI enforcement during holiday weekends when there has traditionally been more alcohol-related traffic incidents. Last year, this Task Force arrested 200 offenders.
Convicted first-time DWI offenders can pay a fine up to $2,000, serve six months in jail, lose their driver’s license for up to a year, and pay an additional $3,000 to retain their license once they get it back. Safety officials say other costs associated with an impaired driving arrest and conviction can add up to more than $17,000 for bail, legal fees, court appearances, court-ordered classes, vehicle insurance increases, and other expenses.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014, 292 people died in alcohol-related fatalities, which represents nearly half of the Houston-Galveston region’s traffic fatalities. Harris County, with 203 alcohol-related fatalities, ranked as the highest in the nation.
“Everyone deserves to ring in the New Year with joy and celebration – not with the loss of life.” said Jeff Kaufman from H-GAC. “Please be responsible in how you choose to celebrate. If you decide to drink, please appoint a designated driver or arrange for a ride home.”
Houston-Galveston Area Council
H-GAC (www.h-gac.com) is a voluntary association of local governments in the 13-county Gulf Coast Planning Region—an area of 12,500 square miles and more than 6 million people. H-GAC’s mission is to serve as the instrument of local government cooperation, promoting the region’s orderly development and the safety and welfare of its citizens.
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