Authorities Urge Drunk Driving Awareness

There is never an opportunity that law enforcers pass up to discuss what is much more than just a passionate topic for them. Texas continually ranks among the highest when it comes to alcohol-related driving incidents.

And young drivers are responsible for more wrecks than their numbers would indicate. According to DPS Senior Trooper Eddie Carmon, among fatal crashes alone, 16-to-25 year-olds make up about a fifth of people killed, despite making up only six percent of drivers on the road.

Throw alcohol into the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster.

While their vigilance will be ever-present, save for Labor Day weekend, the patrols will look the same on area streets. But all generations, including the younger ones, are being urged to drink responsibly, especially with a full campus once again.

"The thought of getting caught many times is on a person's mind when they first start drinking, but after the first few drinks, that's gone," Carmon said. "Then, it's having a good time. What a person needs to do is to make a decision before that first drink that they will not drive if they've been drinking, or choose some alternative."

And the punishments for driving under the influence can include anything from minor fines to major jail time.

It's a pretty simple formula for the new and returning students of higher education.

"College is a time when many of the younger kids are away from home for the first time," said Carmon. "They're meeting people, and what better way to do that than to go to a party. And there's always alcohol there."

And it usually takes a car to get there. With this, the weekend before school, and Labor Day extending next weekend, the possibility exists again for drinking and driving.

The latest nationwide ad campaign is titled, "Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest." For years, different versions have aired. But according to Carmon, there is less tolerance for drunk driving than in years past.

"Public sentiment has changed about it so much over the years, and a lot of that can be attributed to the publicity campaigns that we've been exposed to over so many years," he said. "It's taken close to 20 years for these attitudes to change."

Carmon points to a rise in jail time for offenses like intoxication manslaughter, a conviction Aggie Kyle Johnson received, and for which he himself appeared in public service announcements.

"It's proven over the years that education and enforcement go hand in hand," Carmon said.

So while authorities can't be on every street corner and stop every drunk driver, they hope the message gets through one way or another, but not in the most tragic way.

"Not just this weekend, but if you're operating a motor vehicle anytime, you're going to go to jail for it," Carmon said. "You're going to be arrested and go to jail for it."


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