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Local law enforcement crack down on impaired driving

By KBell
Aug. 28, 2010 at 3:28 a.m.


Local law enforcement agencies are cracking down on impaired driving around the Labor Day holiday.

The Victoria County Sheriff's Office joined the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's campaign, which is known by its slogan, "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest."

The Aug. 20-Sept. 6 campaign combines public awareness and heightened law enforcement to deter impaired driving.

Chief Deputy Terry Simons said he hadn't noticed an increase in DWI arrests since the onset of the program.

"We're seeing people for the most part using some reason, and we're not seeing as many impaired operators," Simons said. "Which I guess is really the whole purpose of this advertising campaign."

Simons said local law enforcement agencies usually make a coordinated effort to reduce drunk driving around the holidays.

The Sheriff's Office won't have more deputies on the streets, but those on patrol will make impaired driving one of their enforcement priorities, Simons added.

Police Chief Bruce Ure said the police department will have extra patrol units on the roads.

"There will be very stringent enforcement of the traffic code, including keeping an eye out for DWIs," he said.

The police department is not part of the NHTSA campaign, but Ure said increased enforcement is something the department does every holiday.

"Especially Labor Day," Ure said. "It's one of the busiest travel holidays throughout the year, and that's why we try to make it as safe as possible."

Trooper Gerald Bryant, spokesman for Victoria's Texas Department of Public Safety, said the department would also have more troopers working during the Labor Day weekend.

"And they'll limit their time with paperwork and stuff to spend more time on the streets," Bryant said.

Bryant said the DPS has enhanced enforcement on Labor Day, Christmas, New Years and the Fourth of July. He said he noticed a decrease in the amount of DWIs issued by officers on these holidays known for more traffic accidents.

"The past few years, it almost looks like it's a regular weekend type deal."

Simons agreed DWI arrests continue to decrease. He attributed the fall to publicity campaigns like the one sponsored by NHTSA and new drivers who have seen loved ones get arrested or even kill someone while driving drunk.

"I've seen a steady progress downward. Thirty years ago, you couldn't even drive. It was like bumper cars out there," he said. "Now, I think the total numbers are decreasing."

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