The Austin Police Department announced a series of safety measures focused on drunk driving for the annual Republic of Texas Biker Rally.
The ROT Rally kicks off this Thursday and runs through Sunday at the Travis County Exposition Center in Northeast Austin. Over 40,000 people have registered to attend, and over 100,000 on-lookers are anticipated, according to APD. ROT is the fourth-largest biker rally of its kind in the United States.
A “No-Refusal” policy will go into effect at 9 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. on Sunday. Under the policy, police can issue blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to give a breath or blood sample. Art Acevedo, the Austin Police Chief, hopes that the stringent policy will deter rally goers from making poor decisions while drinking.
“Since 2007, seven motorcyclists have lost their lives during the ROT Rally weekends,” said Acevedo. Three of these deaths occurred last year. Acevedo attributes the vast majority of motorcycle crashes to alcohol, and riders not wearing their helmets.
For the first time in the rally’s history, the APD will partner with the Texas Department of Public Safety to prevent against accidents caused by an overflow of traffic surrounding the event’s proceedings.
“Sadly, the vast majority of the crashes involving motorcycles involve DWI and not wearing your helmet,” said Acevedo.
Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton does not expect any major problems.
“I think it’s pretty tame out there, considering,” said Hamilton.
The ROT motorcycle procession, the largest of its kind in the world, will begin on Friday at 8 p.m. at the Travis County Expo Center and will end downtown on Congress Avenue.
The city has posted a complete list of street closures.