TYLER, Texas — The Tyler Police Department is increasing patrols this New Year's weekend to keep the community safe from drunk drivers.
Tyler PD Sergeant Luke Shafer said the Selective Traffic Enforcement Programs will be enforced starting Friday through Saturday. He suggested to make a plan before going out to get home safely after the celebrations.
"We always start the STEP program for increased DWI patrol is what our main goal is trying to deter anybody driving intoxicated or impaired," Shafer said.
Shafer said they saw an increase in alcohol-related offenses in the 2021 report.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, over 1,000 deaths were caused by drunk drivers in 2021. In East Texas, there was 23 DUI-alcohol related deaths.
"That's one of the reasons why we're wanting to make sur that we step up enforcement to help reduce that or try to deter that as much as we can," Shafer said.
Shafer said officers will be all over the city but they're paying close attention the busiest streets.
"Our focus targets for this program is a couple of intersections: Troup-Loop, Broadway-Loop, and Old Jacksonville-Loop," Shafer said. "And pretty much anywhere down Broadway, because that's where we have a high volume of traffic."
Elisel Villapudua, an employee at 1836 Texas Kitchen on Old Jacksonville Highway, has witnessed crashes on that busy stretch of road.
"There was a biking accident, I believe somebody was on a bike and they got hit by a car," Villapudua said.
Villapudua said employees there are doing their part to as well by having a limit on how many drinks customers can consume.
Shafer said there are major consequences if you decide to drink and drive.
"Depending on your level of intoxication, it could actually be a Class A misdemeanor, which is going to affect the amount or the length of time in which you have to serve in jail," Shafer said.
Shafer advised the community to make plans if they will be drinking this weekend.
"Select a designated driver to help you make sure that you get home safely or take advantage of one of the programs like Roberts and Roberts that offers free ride service if that's needed," Shafer said.
So, when celebrating with your family and friends this weekend, make sure to have a plan, so you don't wind up in jail.