Drink, Drive, Go to Jail

This weekend marks the beginning of what's known as a no refusal operation for drunk driving. The start of summer and the July 4th weekend are prime times for people to push the limits on drinking and driving. But law enforcement officials will be out in full force to put a stop to intoxicated drivers. Laurie Johnson reports.

Harris County remains the worst in the nation for drunk driving deaths. The rate per capita is higher than anywhere else in the country, and shows no signs of going down. The Harris County District Attorney's office aggressively prosecutes drunk driving offenders. Brent Mayr in the Vehicular Crimes division of the DA's office says special patrols and prosecutor teams will be out this weekend and next looking for violators.

"Any time any law enforcement agency in Harris County, Texas arrests someone for driving while intoxicated, if that person refuses a breath test, those officers are going to be able to come to us so that we can get a search warrant from a judge that will authorize us to authorize a nurse to draw blood from that individual so we can determine what the person's blood alcohol concentration is."

The county runs these programs around key holiday weekends, when people are more likely to be out partying and drinking. The last No Refusal program was over the Memorial Day weekend. Officers arrested more than 250 drivers.

"We did over 50 search warrants to get blood from individuals who refused to provide those specimens. And of those individuals, the average blood alcohol concentration was a .15, almost twice the legal limit."

Although officers will be on alert throughout the region, they'll focus on four hot spots.

"Focusing along Highway 6, Westheimer, Hillcroft area. We're also going to be focusing downtown, we're going to be working and focusing on the Midtown area, Washington, Montrose. We're also going to be focusing on the Clear Lake area. Just because, again, these are areas that were identified as having a number of DWI-related crashes within the past few years."

The No Refusal periods will be in effect this weekend and next between 10pm and 6am.

Mayr says they want people to think twice about drinking and driving.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...