By ESTEVAN MEDRANO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
January 8, 2015
The Laguna Madre area concluded another addition of the bold, unique celebrations that occur during the welcoming of the New Year which included a plunge into the frigid shore, masses of fireworks and plenty of alcohol consumption- the latter of which can unexpectedly bring tragedy to an otherwise cheerful year’s outlook.
And every fresh year brings new resolutions, even for government agencies. The Texas Department of Transportation had been pushing a prominent campaign to remind motorists that law enforcement is stepping up their presence in an effort to reduce last year’s discouraging numbers regarding crashes and fatalities involving drunk driving. Traffic crashes in Texas due to alcohol impairment resulted in nearly 80 injuries and 10 fatalities during the first weekend of the New Year alone, a striking increase from the previous year. But so far, early numbers are promising.
“The New Year’s Eve holiday has historically been a dangerous time on our roadways,” said TxDOT Executive Director Lt. Gen Joe Weber, USMC (Ret). “Texans should plan ahead for a sober ride or risk suffering the consequences. Drunk driving will not be tolerated.”
A DWI can cost an individual up to $17,000 in court fees, classes, and legal costs. Less than three weeks ago, a car crash in Laguna Vista, in which the driver was allegedly intoxicated, sent four to the hospital, leaving one passenger in critical condition.
Overall in the area however, numbers are down. Remarkably, Port Isabel has no reported DWIs since December 20, something PI Police Chief Gualberto Gonzalez attribute to both the mindfulness by driver’s that local police are actively patrolling the area at all times and the ongoing anti-drunk driving campaign.
“There’s more awareness nowadays,” said Chief Gonzalez. “The fact that the Department of Public Safety put it out in the media alerting people to the fact that [law enforcement] would be out in full force during the holidays to enforce traffic laws and DWI laws- I think that has a lot to do with it. People are really starting to look to themselves on how to keep from getting arrested or harming an innocent person from driving intoxicated.”
The statewide anti-drinking and driving campaign, which ran especially heavy through New Year’s Day, encourages Texans seeking for a sober ride for holiday festivities to visit SoberRides.org. Official updated DWI related statistics in Texas for the New Year holiday will be release soon as Texas and local law enforcement strives to continue to reduce the number of alcohol related traffic incidents through the remainder of the year.
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