About every 20 minutes in Texas, a person is hurt or killed in an alcohol-related crash, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Thanks to a grant, state troopers will have extra units on the roads for heavy duty patrolling through January 2 to look for drunk and aggressive drivers.
“Last year we had over 1200 arrests,” Trooper Fred Biddle said. “More than 300 of those were because of the grant and extra patrols, so it does work.”
No matter how little alcohol you plan on drinking, it’s best to designate a sober driver before you partake in any New Year’s festivities.
“When you're intoxicated you may go out with good intentions and decide ‘I'll call somebody if I need to’; however, if the judgment is the first thing to go you know you could end up with a bad situation there,” Biddle said.
If plans with your sober driver fall through, Abilene police recommend you ask a manager at whatever business you are celebrating New Year’s Eve at to call a taxi for you.
“The last thing we want to do is hurt anybody in our community because of something that clearly is against the law and is something that is preventable by taking responsible actions,” Officer George Spindler said.
If you are caught driving drunk, you’ll be hit with some tough penalties. For the first offense, you will face up to a $2,000 fine, three days to 180 days in jail, lose your driver license up to a year and face an annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 for three years to keep your license.
The second time, you will face a fine up to $4,000, one month to one year in jail, lose your license for up to two years and face an annual fee of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for three years to keep your license.
The third time, the fine is $10,000 with two to 10 years in prison, loss of a license for up to two years and an annual fee of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for three years to keep your license.
If you are caught driving drunk with a child passenger (i.e. under the age of 15), you’ll see a $10,000 fine, up to two years in jail and lose your license for 180 days.
If you get two or more DWI convictions in five years, you’ll have to install a special ignition switch on your vehicle to prevent you from driving after drinking.
If you accidentally have too much to drink on New Year’s Eve, AAA in Texas is offering a safe ride program as a last resort. You can get your car towed to your home for free up to 10 miles. Past that distance, the tow company will charge a rate. Only the driver of the car being towed will get a free ride, no passengers will be allowed and AAA will not take reservations. The number to call is 1-800-AAA-HELP.