Virtual ride-alongs during Fiesta capture DWI arrests

Countywide figures show 250 cases during 11 days of Fiesta

SAN ANTONIO – Now in their second year, virtual ride-alongs with San Antonio police officers posted on the department’s Facebook page had a new twist during this year’s 11 days of Fiesta.

SAPD spokesman Doug Greene was on Facebook Live during four of Fiesta’s busiest nights from events, including Night in Old San Antonio and on the streets with officers arresting suspected drunk drivers.

“It’s going really well, especially because we added the live aspect of that,” Greene said.

So much so, Greene said the department is planning more virtual ride-alongs.

He said they were viewed and shared by at least 100,000 people, many of them throughout the state.

For instance, in one live report near the Fiesta Carnival, Greene described a DWI arrest on South Cherry.

“The vehicle is going to be towed,” he said, as a patrol car started driving off. “As you can see behind me, that individual is on his way to jail.”

The arrest that night was among 250 countywide made by area law enforcement agencies over the 11 day event, according to the Magistrate Office. The majority, 160, were first-time DWI arrests.

Greene said those individuals will learn how expensive it can be, an estimated $17,000 including court fees and fines and the cost of recovering the driver’s license, as well as possibly losing their jobs or making it more difficult to find employment.

Among the most telling figures were the 11 DWI arrests made with children in the vehicle, a felony offense.
Greene said knowing those drivers were putting their children at risk, people on Facebook were upset and  frustrated.

He said the department’s statistics are due out Tuesday, but it’s expected they could be lower than 2015 when 222 drunken driving arrests were made during Fiesta in contrast to the high of 404 in 2014.

Greene said although he had no figures on how many Fiesta-goers used alternate forms of transportation, such as ride-sharing services, followers on Facebook said they were using Uber and Lyft and were encouraging others to do the same. 

He said SAPD is planning an even stronger, visible presence during next year’s Fiesta.