The Montgomery County District Attorney has announced that the Regional DWI Task Force, which consists of multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the county, will be operating throughout Memorial Day weekend to cut down on driving while intoxicated (DWI) and boating while intoxicated (BWI) cases with the hope of preventing fatalities on Lake Conroe and on our roadways. Participating agencies include DPS, Conroe PD, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, MC Constable Precinct 4, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and others. This is a recurring enforcement wave 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. This weekend also begins what is traditionally known as the “100 deadliest days of the year” due to lack of school programs, increased outdoor activities, and more travelers on the roads. Alcohol related crimes are the number one killer of teens in the United States and underage drinking deaths increase significantly starting this weekend. As well as crashes, accidental deaths such as drowning increase significantly during this period especially when alcohol is involved. No Refusal and law enforcement have transformed Lake Conroe from one of the deadliest lakes in the state to one of the safest. However, alcohol is involved in almost all of the drowning deaths on the lake further pointing to a need for education and law enforcement.
In addition to these patrols, TxDOT has provided funds for prosecutors to work each night during selected hours to assist officers with obtaining warrants for those offenders who refuse to follow the law and provide samples upon arrest. Judges volunteer their time to review warrants for blood in DWI and BWI cases. If a person refuses a police officer’s request for blood after an arrest, their license will be seized immediately, the person’s driving privilege may be suspended for 6 months, the refusal is admissible as a statement of guilt at trial, DPS surcharges for future driving privileges may total $3,000, and the officer will seek a warrant to take the sample anyway. These civil penalties are in addition to criminal punishments that individuals could face. Last year, 45 people were arrested for DWI and 2 for BWI in Montgomery County over the same weekend.
Convicted first-time DWI offenders can pay a fine up to $2,000, serve six months in jail, or serve two years probation. 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, towing fees and other expenses.
“DWI is the most preventable crime of all, yet it is still the deadliest crime in the county,” said Brett Ligon, Montgomery County DA. “There will be a lot more police officers out there looking for you if you choose to ignore the advice of law enforcement. If you opt to drink, appoint a designated driver or arrange for a ride home.” Milstead Automotive and local restaurants/bars have expanded towing and taxi services this weekend for those who plan ahead.
For updates on the number of individuals arrested for DWI and BWI, please follow the Montgomery County District Attorney, Brett Ligon on Twitter at @MontgomeryTXDAO or on the internet at www.mctxdao.org .