SAN ANTONIO - If you think you’re seeing a drunken-driving related crime on the news every day, it’s not your imagination. Last year, police arrested someone for driving while intoxicated every single day.
When Fiesta fans took to the streets last year, San Antonio police were keeping a close eye on partygoers who took the party with them, and plenty of drivers paid a heavy price.
Police arrested 221 drivers during the 10 days of Fiesta. Most of them were first-time offenders with a blood-alcohol level of .08, a misdemeanor. That was followed by first-time offenders charged with a DWI with a blood alcohol content of .15. Others were arrested for a third or more DWI, which is a felony. Five drivers were arrested on charges of driving drunk with a child younger than 15, and two were charged with intoxication assault.
“We have officers on our DWI task force. We work 365 days a year, seven days a week. It's not surprising,” said Sgt. Michelle Ramos with the San Antonio Police Department.
Ramos said the increase in arrests was likely a result of increased efforts to crack down on drunken driving.
“Throughout the year, our STEP program — it's a (Texas Department of Transportation) grant-funded program — so we have officers that work Wednesday through Sunday for that program. During Fiesta, however, we work our officers seven days a week during those times,” Ramos said.
Jackie Ipina, with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said even if first-time offenders don’t hurt someone, there are still victims.
“You can lose your job. You're going to have to spend money on attorney fees and your probation, on having ignition interlocked, license suspension. It's all these things that add up, so once you look at the whole picture, it's, like, ‘Wow, it's not just me,’” Ipina said.
Police and MADD say drunken driving crimes are completely preventable. Before heading out to a party, designate a driver who won’t be drinking or set aside some money for a taxi or ride-share service to make sure you get home safely.
If you’re hosting a party, you may want to give designated drivers some non-alcoholic drink options.
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