This Fourth of July, it is estimated that 38.5 million Americans will be driving on U.S. highways.
East Texas law enforcement is enforcing the “no refusal” rule in an attempt to keep impaired drivers off the road.
“Whenever you get intoxicated I don’t think you realize how intoxicated you are, and you’re confident that you are able to drive home,” said Smith County Assistant District Attorney Brent Ratekin.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2016, during the 4th of July weekend, there were eight crashes involving alcohol in East Texas.
In 2015, during the 4th of July weekend, there were six crashes involving alcohol that happened on East Texas roads.
A first-time DWI offender faces up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. A second-time offender faces up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. A person with a third DWI faces up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Additional charges could be filed depending on the circumstances surrounding the arrest.
“If you happen to have an accident and someone gets hurt, now you’re looking at intoxication assault. If someone dies now you’re looking at intoxication manslaughter,” said Ratekin.
Aside from jail time and hefty fines, a DWI can have a long-lasting effect on a person’s career.
“Think about your future because there’s many careers out there that will not accept any type of criminal activity or past involving drugs or alcohol,” said David Dorman a court monitoring specialist with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Although there is an uptick in DWI arrests during Holidays, state and national numbers have been steadily decreasing.
“Uber, Lyft, Taxi, I know here in Tyler we have a great Taxi system, we have Uber, the Transportation is there,” said Ratekin. “I think that also plays a factor in decreasing the number of DWIs.”
Ratekin says he also believes the organization MADD is also helping take impaired drivers off the road through programs such as the Victim Impact Panels.
“We can always rationalize our behaviors but when we actually see the consequences staring you back in the face with tears in their eyes, it gets a little harder,” said Dorman.