Police see success in DWI crackdowns

HARLINGEN — DWI arrests during major holidays are remaining down.

Several arrests were made this Spring Break season in Harlingen.

The Harlingen Police Department, in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation, focused on conducting DWI saturation patrols in high risk locations during this past Spring Break.

Thousands of lives are cut short every year because of drunken drivers.

These are promising lives missed because of the fateful decisions by irresponsible people who get behind the wheel and drive drunk.

In an effort to stop this deadly trend and save lives, the Texas Department of Transportation, in partnership with local police departments, launched a statewide initiative in the hopes that no lives are lost.

The departments have been implementing these initiatives over the past several years.

“The city of Harlingen and the Harlingen Police Department have joined other cities in the Rio Grade Valley and across the state in efforts to keep our citizens and visitors safe,” Police Chief Jeffry Adickes said.

During the major holidays, Harlingen and other police departments receive Impaired Driving Mobilization Step Grants.

The grants are funded through TxDOT and are used to increase manpower while attempting to hinder DWI-related incidents.

The grant pays for overtime so police can patrol those high risk areas where drunken drivers are more likely to be. This month, the bumped-up patrols ran March 4 through March 21.

During the enforcement period, officers made a total of six arrests for driving while intoxicated.

It’s not just for Spring Break however. The bumped up patrols happen frequently through out the year and during the most popular holidays.

In previous years, the department and several others have used the grant at peak holiday times, such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Spring Break, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

During those times, only a handful of drunken-driving related arrests are made.

They concentrated on times and locations where alcohol-related crashes are most frequent.

According to police, last year there were about 100 alcohol-related crashes in Harlingen overall.

Not only does it help crack down on drunken drivers, but it also prevents speeders and encourages seatbelt and restraint safety, Adickes said.

Over the past several years, the grant has proved to be a good thing in the community. When the initiative took place in Harlingen during the Christmas 2015 holiday season, only five DWI arrests were made.

Police say every time the grant is applied, those numbers stay low.

Last year, Harlingen Police Commander David Osborne said it could be because of the educational platforms the state and the department have implemented.

“I think people are starting to get the message,” Osborne said.