Number of weekend DWI arrests part of returning trend to pre-pandemic levels

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 10:42 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - More than a dozen drivers were arrested on DWI charges in Bryan-College Station over the weekend, as intoxication-related crimes are beginning to return to their pre-pandemic levels.

Seven of those arrests occurred in Bryan, and three of them on Wellborn Road.

“It’s a fairly typical weekend for us to see a couple DWI arrests a night,” Bryan police officer Kole Taylor said.

Taylor says this is a trend that’s matching pre-pandemic levels after this type of arrest declined by roughly 20% last year.

“The past three weeks we’ve had 21 DWI arrests, and that’s weeknights and weekends,” Taylor said. “For a similar three-week period that I’ve looked at over the past couple years, it’s a fairly average number for us to have.”

Bobbi Brooks is the manager of the Watch UR BAC Program at Texas A&M. She says stopping this trend takes a lot of education and reminding people what to do before they drink.

“We’ve had a lot of people that have been working from home and dealing with the pandemic,” Brooks said. “There’s been a lot of mental health issues that are happening, and people are self-medicating, a lot of times with alcohol or drugs. As they start to gather with friends, a lot of times it involves drinking, and they don’t think to plan ahead.”

Brooks says with the abundance of ride-sharing options available to people these days, it’s easy for people who don’t have a designated driver to still make it home without getting behind the wheel of a car.

“Your first-time DWI will cost you about $17,000, whereas that Uber or Lyft could be $20 or $40,” Brooks said. “That’s nothing in comparison to the lifelong consequences you would suffer with that DWI.”

The Watch UR BAC program has been funded through TxDOT for eight years now. Not only do they offer hands-on, interactive programs across the state to help prevent drunk driving, they also kicked off a new campaign to encourage the public to report suspected impaired drivers.

“If you are a driver on the roads, you have a civic duty to report that,” Brooks said. “Impaired driving is an emergency, so dial 9-1-1. Make sure to pull over to the side of the road so you’re not driving under the hands-free law. You’re going to want to know your location, the make, model, and license plate of the car, and follow the directions of the dispatcher on the other end of the line.”

Brooks says if people are proactive about preventing and reporting drunk drivers, this emergence from the pandemic becomes an opportunity, instead of a return to normal we can all do without.

“We have not had a deathless day on Texas roads since November 7, 2000, and it’s time for us to make that difference and to drive sober,” Brooks said. “It’s time now to tell your friends to have that sober designated driver and to make plans before you go out.”

Brooks says it’s been more difficult to get their message across over Zoom meetings during the pandemic, but they’re excited to get back to the face-to-face programs that are more effective. You can find what the Watch UR BAC program offers by clicking here.

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