DWI numbers down in 2013 compared to the year before

ABILENE, Texas - Though DWIs are a serious crime, in Abilene there were not as many arrests for driving under the influence compared to 2012.

In 2013, DWI numbers out of Abilene showed that more people are trying to avoid driving drunk, but Officer George Spindler of the Abilene Police Department said we can still do better.

"We know that with approximately 356 DWIs alone for 2013, we know that on average that's one DWI a day," Spindler said.

Compared to numbers in 2012, it looks like the community is on the right track, though. There were more than 414 DWI arrests during that year.

Of the 356 reported in 2013, 16 of them were during December, a month well known for the holidays.

"The department remains hopeful that the message is out there and that young and old people alike are heeding the message, 'hey, we can do better, there are options, responsible alternatives to getting behind the wheel intoxicated,'" Spindler said.

You're affecting more than just yourself if you're planning to get behind the wheel after a few drinks.

"And we know that we've had deaths related to DWI-related accidents, again, totally preventable," Spindler said.

Michelle Mantanona knows the affects of drinking and driving all too well. She lost her eight-year-old son, Jarrett Mantanona, in a drunk driving accident.

Her advice is to think about the lives you might affect before you drink and drive.

"Ask James Gilger, the young man responsible for my son's death, he's serving 14 years right now, in prison or the other three young individuals that were in that car that had to live with the fact that they took a life for the rest of their lives or ask my husband who spent 45 minutes trying to resuscitate our son or my 5-year old son that has to live with the fact that he saw his brother die right in front of him," Mantanona said.

Drinking under the influence can not only lead to death, but the fines associated with the crime may also make you think twice.

For the first offense, you could be fined up to $2,000, serve up to 180 days in jail and face up to $2,000 in fees for three years to keep your license.

If you're caught again, the fines and jail time quickly add up.

Mantanona also suggests reaching out to friends on Facebook to find help if you plan to take a trip to the bar.

"Social media has also been a huge tool this year, this past year, we saw a lot more people getting on saying if you need a ride, call me," said Mantanona.

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