Police: Alcohol-related Arrests a Growing Problem in College Station

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COLLEGE STATION- College Station Police say they've noticed a concerning trend when it comes to alcohol-related arrests.

"We used to have maybe a couple hundred arrests for DWI per year starting in 2004 or 2005, but since that time it's doubled," said College Station Police Sargent Jason Summers.

Public records show driving while intoxicated arrests have increased from 240 citations in 2003 to 464 arrests in 2012.

However, as the number of DWI offenses has gone up, one thing has stayed the same. People under 25 years old are drinking, driving, and going to jail twice as often as people over 25 in College Station.

Summers says the nature of those arrests has evolved.

"The people who do get caught, do get arrested for driving while intoxicated, their alcohol level is almost twice the legal limit. It's not like they're barely intoxicated or a little bit intoxicated. They're intoxicated," said Summers.

Police say the number of all alcohol-related arrests have been steadily rising for years. 225 people were arrested for public intoxication in 2003, while more than 650 people were charged with the offense last year.

Investigators believe one explanation for the rise is there are more people living in College Station.

However, College Station's population has gone up 33% percent from 2003 to 2012, while public intoxication cases have increased 190% during the same time frame.

Another explanation may lie in the number of police officers on the streets. In fact, the most significant spike in arrests happened in 2011 - the first year officers on bikes began patrolling Northgate.

"While the police department and the population has grown, also taxi services and other things like that haven't necessarily grown as well, haven't given people an option to give people a safe ride home as easy as it was 10 years ago," said Summers.

However, there are some new safe ride options for those who drink too much to drive. Services like Rockin' J's Night Shuttle offer party-goers low-cost, round-trip rides to and from Northgate. Customers who are of age can even drink on board.

CARPOOL at Texas A&M is another organization that offers "free, safe, non-judgmental rides home" to anyone in Bryan/College Station on weekend nights.

Police say the problem is people are still passing on designated drivers, and getting behind the wheel way too often.

"If you think about it, those are just the people that got caught, you know drinking and driving, so there's probably three times as many people drinking and driving that haven't been caught on an average night," said Summers. "The community has got to be able to stand up and say this is wrong, this is a bad thing to do and we're not going to tolerate it."

Police are the ones not tolerating drunk drivers for now, but they say they need help from the whole community to really drive the point home.