drunk driving

Drunk Driving Awareness March

Apr 17, 2015
Anthony Green/KUT News

Austin police Chief Art Acevedo and Texas state representative Jason Villalba joined AAA Texas, community members and leaders Friday in honoring local lives lost to drinking and driving. 

A press conference was followed by a silent march around a cloud-covered Texas Capitol for the city's third annual March for Change. Last year, Texas drivers experienced more than 24,000 alcohol related crashes that resulted in over 1,000 deaths, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

It’s a busy weekend in Austin, with Halloween and Formula 1 festivities. That means downtown road closures.

Trinity between Cesar Chavez and 4th Street will be closed until midnight for Formula One. So will 2nd and 3rd Streets between Trinity and San Jacinto. Neches between 4th and 5th Streets will also be closed all day.

Jon Shapley for KUT News

The Austin Police Department will be monitoring the roads extra carefully this weekend, and enforcing a "no refusal" mandate; law enforcement will be able to quickly obtain a warrant to test the blood-alcohol level of any suspected drunk driver who objects to a Breathalyzer or blood test.

Fourth of July revelers who don’t think they’ll make fit drivers this weekend will have their pick of get-home-safe cards.

1. Capital Metro has some late-night options, including year-round Night Owl buses that run until 3 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Night Owl services travel five different routes between popular spots on 6th Street and city neighborhoods.

Travis County Sheriff's Office

District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg released a public apology on her website over the weekend.

She offers her "deepest regret and most sincere apology" for the April 12 drunk driving incident which led to her arrest and subsequent guilty plea. Lehmberg announced on her Facebook page that she had posted the letter, calling it the "only form of communication available to [her] at this time."

Travis County Sheriff's Office

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg pleaded guilty this morning to a Class A misdemeanor for drunk driving.

She was arrested last Friday night after she was reportedly driving erratically. Travis County Sheriff’s officers say they found an open bottle of vodka in her car.

Caleb Miller for KUT News

Even though it’s Monday, it’s still a “No Refusal” weekend for Austin drivers.

From 9 p.m. through 5 a.m., the Austin Police Department will ask suspected drunk drivers to take a mandatory breath test. And if drivers don't agree, police will ask for a subpoena for DWI suspects' blood.  The Austin Police Department says 23 people were arrested for DWI on Sunday.

In an effort to keep Austin’s roads safe, Capital Metro and APD have partnered to provide free Cap Metro services from 6 p.m. until 3 a.m. Buses will run on a regular schedule tonight, but will be reduced to Sunday level service on New Year’s Day. For more information, visit capmetro.org.

Nathan Bernier

1. You're More Likely to Get Caught Tonight:

The Austin Police Department is enforcing a "No Refusal policy" beginning tonight at 9 and ending Thursday at 5 a.m.

That means police will conduct blood search warrants on drivers who are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving and refuse to voluntarily submit to a breathalyzer or blood test.

2. It'll Cost You:

Police say anyone found with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor and could face 3 days to 6 months in jail, a one year suspension of their driver’s license and a fine of up to $2,000 for a first offense.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has already stepped up DWI patrols for Labor Day.

For the next few weeks, DPS troopers are focusing on high-risk locations where alcohol-related crashes happen most often.

DPS says during Labor Day enforcement last year, troopers made more than 2,000 DWI arrests.

screen capture from TxDOT telenovela ad
Screen capture from TxDOT anti-DUI ad.

The Texas Department of Transportation announced today that it has been airing these two-minute 'mini' telenovelas on the Spanish-language TV networks Univision, Estrella, and Telefutura. TxDOT says it is one of the first US state agencies to create anti-DUI ads using the telenovela form, "which is very popular in the Spanish-speaking community."

Check out the videos for yourself.