Bar patrons focus of Abilene police talks, new slogan about drunk driving dangers

New Abilene DWI prevention push begins soon

ABILENE, Texas - Abilene police will soon team up with various law enforcement agencies to combat drunk driving.

In 2012, KTXS worked with APD and other local organizations to put together an anti-DWI slogan contest. The winning slogan was "Stay Alive, Don't Drink and Drive."

Recently, the Zach Robinson Memorial Foundation purchased 5,000 poker chips with the slogan. The foundation was created in memory of Cooper High School graduate Zach Robinson, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2006.

"It's not alcohol that's our battle, it's drinking and driving really at any age," Matt Robinson, Zach's father, said. "In Zach's case it was underage drinking and driving. But at any age, it's such a danger to themselves and to innocent people."

Of the 5,000 chips, 1,500 were given to Abilene police. Police Chief Stan Standridge said APD will partner with the Taylor County Sheriff's Office, Dyess Air Force Base, the Department of Public Safety and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to hand out the poker chips to patrons at local bars and remind them to not drive drunk.

"We're going to invade that culture and try to reach toward changing the culture from when they leave that establishment to getting behind the wheel when they're intoxicated. We can no longer do it that way," Standridge said. "Lives are at stake, including their own."

Standridge said prosecuting drunk drivers is often difficult since jurors typically relate to the crime. He said many people perceive drunk driving as a victimless crime and people need to realize that is not the case.

"The person I really want to talk to today is the person who is about to get behind the wheel who is absolutely convinced that he or she is not ‘that drunk.' Well, ‘that drunk' continues to kill people in our community," Standridge said. "We have to get past the mindset of, you know, I had a couple but I'm still fine to drive."

Getting charged with drunk driving can cost thousands of dollars. Abilene police made 414 DWI arrests in 2012. That was a 2 percent increase from 2011. The number of DWI-related fatalities doubled. There were eight DWI-related fatalities in 2012 and four in 2011. 

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