During this upcoming Fourth of July, Texas law enforcement will not be taking no for an answer.
This mainly focuses on motorists driving drunk and refusing to cooperate when stopped.
Officials, judges, and district attorneys will be doubling down on law enforcement in conjunction with a â€śNo Refusalâ€ť campaign launched in time for the Independence Day holiday.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports, the July 4 holiday ranks No. 1 nationally for fatal crashes that are related to alcohol. In 2011, the State of Texas saw 308 alcohol-related crashes during the holiday.
The Texas Department of Transportationâ€™s outreach program helps put a new face on the agencyâ€™s â€śFaces of Drunk Drivingâ€ť campaign â€“ a statewide initiative that garnered national and international attention with the story of Jacqui Saburido, the young woman whose face was burned beyond recognition after being hit by a drunk driver.
This yearâ€™s campaign highlights Sean Carter, who suffered a massive brain injury when a car in which he was riding spun out of control and slammed into a tree. Both Sean and the driver were legally drunk.
Carol Rawson, the Traffic Operations Division Director for TxDOT, said July 4 is the deadliest holiday of the year for alcohol-related crashes across the country.
â€śTexans need to hear Seanâ€™s powerful story and know that law enforcement will be out in force,â€ť she said. â€śItâ€™s important to make the right choices. Stay safe and enjoy the holiday. If a celebration involves alcohol, donâ€™t drive.â€ť
When it comes to the â€śno refusalâ€ť crackdown, it will truly be just that. Motorists who are suspected of driving while intoxicated must provide a breath or blood sample to law enforcement. If they donâ€™t comply, law enforcement officials can take such suspects to jail, where a judge then signs an expedited search warrant that calls for a mandatory blood sample to be taken by a qualified health care professional.
Those who are found to be legally intoxicated, such as having a blood or breath alcohol content of .08 or higher) are arrested and prosecuted.
Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam said this program is not new to Texas, and officials have seen a significant drop in DWI activity in areas of the state where this program has been used.
â€śIn Montgomery County, we have seen a big drop in intoxication manslaughter charges since we started our no-refusal program,â€ť he said.
However, more than 1,000 Texans each year are killed as a result of impaired drivers, and Texas is frequently ranked as the nationâ€™s deadliest for impaired driving deaths. In 2011, the state saw over 24,000 alcohol-related crashes, which resulted in the loss of over 1,000 lives.
To drive home this message, TxDOT has updated its â€śFaces of Drunk Drivingâ€ť web site with a new story that illustrates the human impact of drunk driving.
Sean Carter was a 22-year-old college junior who was out having drinks with friends. He knew he couldnâ€™t drive home, but the friend that gave him a ride was in no condition to do so either. The driver walked away from the crash, but Carter was left in a wheelchair and is unable to talk. He now uses a computer to speak.
â€śDonâ€™t drink and drive, and please donâ€™t make my mistake of riding with someone who has been drinking,â€ť he said. â€śIf I knew then that the decisions I would make on that night a few years ago would affect the rest of my life, putting me here in the wheelchair unable to walk or talk, you can bet I would not have done what I did.â€ť
Visit www.facesofdrunkdriving.com to learn more about Carterâ€™s story and the dangers of drunk driving.