KTVT-TV reported on December 21 that the annual Christmas and New Year’s holiday traffic DWI Enforcement campaigns of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) would begin on Wednesday, December 23. DPS was reminding drivers to celebrate the holiday season responsibly by practicing safe driving habits and obeying all traffic laws.

“Another year is drawing to a close, and while there are many reasons to celebrate, we must all remember to do so responsibly to help keep our roadways safe,” DPS Director Steven McCraw told KTVT. “DPS Troopers will increase patrols over the holidays, as will many of our fellow law enforcement partners across the state, and we will be on the lookout for drivers not obeying the law and endangering others. Public safety is our top priority, and we encourage all drivers to put safety first as you celebrate this holiday season.”

As part of two Operation Holiday initiatives, DPS Troopers were going to be increasing DWI Enforcement beginning on December 23 through Saturday, December 26, as well as Thursday, December 31, through Friday, January 1. Simultaneously, the nationwide Operation CARE (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort) initiative was going to run from December 23 through January 3.

KTVT reported that DPS Troopers would be looking for drivers who violate the law, including those who are speeding, driving while intoxicated, failing to wear a seat belt, driving without insurance, and not complying with the state’s Move Over, Slow Down law, among other traffic violations. During DPS’ 2019 Christmas and New Year’s holiday DWI enforcement efforts combined, a total of more than 169,000 warnings and citations were issued, including 15,786 speeding citations; 2,105 seat belt and child seat violations; 3,465 citations for driving without insurance; and 1,300 for violations of Move Over, Slow Down.

Last year’s enforcement efforts resulted in 787 DWI arrests, 609 felony arrests, and 555 fugitive arrests. DPS offered the following safety tips for the holiday season:

  • Don’t drink and drive. Make alternate plans if you are consuming alcohol.
  • Move Over or Slow Down for police, fire, EMS, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) vehicles and tow trucks stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated. Show the same courtesy to fellow drivers who are stopped on the side of the road. This year alone, between Jan. 1 and Dec. 8, DPS issued 12,457 warnings and citations for violations of this law.
  • Buckle up everyone in the vehicle — it’s the law.
  • Slow down, especially in bad weather, heavy traffic, unfamiliar areas or construction zones.
  • Eliminate distractions while driving, including the use of mobile devices. Texas law prohibits the use of portable wireless devices to read, write or send an electronic message unless the vehicle is stopped. Also, if you’re using a navigation device or app, have a passenger operate it, so you can keep your eyes on the road.
  • Drive defensively, as holiday travel can present additional challenges.
  • Don’t drive fatigued — allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • On multi-lane roadways, use the left lane for passing only. Not only is it courteous driving and avoids impeding traffic, Texas law requires slower traffic to keep to the right and to use the left lane for passing only (when posted).
  • If you can Steer It, Clear It: If you are involved in a non-injury crash and your vehicle can be moved, clear the traffic lanes to minimize traffic impact. Leaving vehicles in a traffic lane increases traffic congestion and leaves those involved with an increased risk of harm or a secondary wreck. On some highways, if you don’t move your vehicle when it’s safe to do so, it’s against the law.
  • Check your vehicle to make sure it is properly maintained and always ensure your cargo is secure.
  • Report road hazards or anything suspicious to the nearest law enforcement agency.
  • Monitor weather and road conditions wherever you are traveling. For road conditions and closures in Texas, visit Drive Texas.

Operation CARE is the only national program designed to draw all state-level law enforcement agencies together to achieve the common goal of traffic accident reduction. The Operation is committed to accident reduction by focusing on three principal traffic safety program areas: alcohol enforcement; occupant protection; and 55 mph compliance.

The December 23-January 3 period is known as the CARE Life Saver period and is the ninth CARE initiative of the year. Previous programs included Super Bowl Sunday, Spring Break / St. Patrick’s Day Mobilization, Distracted Driving from April 6 through April 13, Cinco De Mayo, the All-American Buckle Up / Click-it-or-Ticket / Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.

The CARE Section is part of the S&P division of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the world’s largest and most influential professional association for police leaders that is a not-for-profit 501c(3) organization. The United States Department of Transportation states that nationally, over the past 5 years, an average of 300 people died in drunk driving crashes the week between Christmas and New Year.

Of the 3,067 people killed in motor vehicle accidents in December 2016, 781 or one-quarter of the fatalities were drunk driving crashes. Between 2012 and 2016, 14,472 people were killed in traffic accidents and 3,995, or 28 percent, were drunk driving crashes.

DWI Defense in Dallas, TX

While a first DWI in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor, people can face elevated criminal charges for certain offenses. A second DWI is a Class A misdemeanor and any third or subsequent arrest is a third-degree felony.

If a person is arrested for the crime of DWI with a child passenger, the offense is a state jail felony. Whereas a Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.

A state jail felony is punishable by up to two years in state jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. A third-degree felony could lead to up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

DWI offenses could also lead to additional punishments such as mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices in all vehicles owned or operated by the alleged offender. When a person happens to be involved in an automobile accident while intoxicated, a crash causing serious injury could lead to an intoxication assault charge.

Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony, but can become a second-degree felony if a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel sustained serious bodily injury. If a person causes the death of another individual in a drunk driving crash, they could be charged with intoxication manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony unless a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel is killed, in which case the crime is a first-degree felony.

Find a Dallas DWI Defense Lawyer | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

Were you arrested for DWI in Dallas or another part of North Texas? You should not wait another moment to being looking for a criminal defense attorney.

The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy has been handling DWI cases throughout the Dallas area for over 20 years. You can have us review your case and answer all of your legal questions when you call (972) 233-5700 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.