Area law enforcement and prosecutors gather to learn how to better handle DWIs

Nov. 12, 2010 at 5:12 a.m.

Law enforcement representatives and prosecutors from Victoria and surrounding counties gathered in Victoria for the "Guarding Texas Roadways: 2010 DWI Summit" on Friday morning.

The summit was at Del Papa Distributing, 3907 E. Rio Grande St.

"The forum itself is going to increase communication and coordination between agencies," said Victoria County District Attorney Steve Tyler, who moderated the Victoria broadcast.

The three-hour training was broadcast via live satellite feed from the Anheuser-Busch headquarters in St. Louis to more than 1,400 officers and prosecutors watching from the company's distributorships in 31 Texas cities, as well as cities in New Mexico and Missouri.

Representatives from Victoria, Lavaca, Bee, Calhoun and Wharton counties were among those who attended the Victoria broadcast.

The purpose of the summit was to train officers and prosecutors to better prosecute alcohol intoxication offenses such as DWI, intoxication assault and intoxication manslaughter.

"Del Papa distributing realizes how important it is to keep individuals who are intoxicated off the roads for not only the safety of themselves, but also for everyone else," said Allen Schertz, human resources director for Del Papa. "Nobody, including beer companies, wants people to be drunk on the roadway. Anheuser-Busch's current slogan is 'Responsibility matters.'"

One of the techniques discussed was the no-refusal program.

"We've increased our conviction rate to well over 90 percent through the use of the no-refusal program," said Warren Diepraam, assistant district attorney in the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office.

Tyler said no-refusal weekends have not been implemented in Victoria as of yet.

"We've talked about it with the judges, and we will talk about it again," he said. "We have a way to go with the judges and working out the mechanics of how to do it."

Attendees shared why they chose to attend the event.

"It's a great thing they are doing because it helps us in knowing how to keep cases from being dismissed," said Robert Hinojosa, a deputy with the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office. "It can be real hard to get a sample if people refuse. It's going to help us to know how to talk to these people and the proper steps to obtain a sample."

Deborah Branch, an assistant district attorney for the 156th Judicial District in Beeville, said it will help officers gather more evidence on the street, which in turn will help with the prosecution.

"We can learn some additional ways law enforcement can approach people when they are out in the streets gathering evidence. That's what helps us," said Branch.



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