More than 90 people have been arrested in Montgomery County for alcohol-related offenses since July 3, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.
Law enforcement from different agencies around Montgomery came together in July to create a DWI Task Force. The unit consisted of members from DPS, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Conroe Police Department, and TABC.
The Task Force conducted bar visits in order to remind bar owners and bartenders of the consequences of over-serving. The Task Force also checked bars for compliance and underage drinking, and patrolled the streets looking for intoxicated drivers.
“However many arrests we have to make- whether it be bartenders, or patrons or both- that’s what we're going to do to get a handle on the issue of people being over-served in these bars down here,” said Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Tyler Dunman.
However, law enforcement agencies aren’t the only ones patrolling the streets for drunk drivers in Montgomery County.
“Everybody sees these signs on the highway that say, ‘Don't Drink and Drive,’ well here's one on wheels,” said DWI Tracker Founder P.D. “Smitty” Smith. “They know we're there. They have to make a decision: do I want to come out and run the gauntlet between DWI tracker, DPS and local law enforcement? Or do I want to call a cab?”
P.D. Smith and his wife, Margaret, started DWI Trackers after their 18-year-old daughter, Meghann, was killed in an alcohol-related accident. The DWI Trackers now have two marked, camera-equipped vehicles.
“Once [suspected drunk drivers] leave, we come up behind them at a safe distance, try to be far enough from them that they don't see us, and start videotaping. If the subject decides to fight it in court then they're going to have to call us, because we're the complainant. If they call us, we're going to bring the video in. They don't want that,” said P.D. Smith.
Smith says the call police once a suspected driver breaks four driving rules on camera.
Most people agree that drunk drivers should be held accountable, but some members of the community wonder if the DWI Task Force and Trackers have gone too far.
“It wasn't our choice for our daughter to be killed. That choice was made by an impaired driver. So this is our choice, whether they like it or not. We get a lot of thumbs up, and a lot of people who don't like us out there,” said Margaret Smith.
Smith says the DWI Trackers’ goal is to keep intoxicated drivers from getting behind the wheel, not to get people arrested.