In the summer of 2022, several fatal DWI accidents changed the way Galveston Police Department (GPD) officers thought about drunk driving. And this year they are doing something to make sure that these fatal accidents don’t occur. According to a story in ABC 13, Galveston Police have ramped up DWI arrests this summer. In fact, arrests have doubled over the number last year. Anyone traveling through Galveston this year should be on guard because the odds are high you will get pulled over if you show class signs of drunk driving. We also cannot be sure that the state will take it easy on any DWI defendant, even a first timer.
The Fatal Crash That Triggered Change
Police officers quoted in the ABC 13 story mentioned how an August 2022 fatal accident involving a golf cart was critical in changing how they viewed drunk driving. The accident involved a family riding in a golf cart that was struck by a drunk motorist. When the first officer responded to the scene, he couldn’t believe what he saw.
Other fatal accidents in the following weeks only hammered home the horrible consequences of drunk driving. A drunk driver who had been released on parole only hours before had killed a 14-year-old on Labor Day as he was preparing to return to school. This was the driver’s fourth DWI arrest. A few days earlier a 53-year-old man riding a scooter was struck and killed by a drunk driver who ran a stop sign. These deaths sent shockwaves through the community—and the Police Department.
GPD ultimately responded to the crisis by forming a new traffic enforcement unit. Their goal? Target drunk drivers.
To that end, the Department has increased its focus on speeding, running a light, and other violations. GPD is also paying special attention to those areas where drunk driving is most common. Some officers in the unit have made at least one DWI arrest every other day, and city officials have hailed their efforts.
Arrests Have Skyrocketed
Before the formation of the traffic enforcement unit, GPD made 324 arrests for DWI. Since the unit has been in existence, that number has increased to 608—almost a 100% increase. They have also streamlined the reporting process so that arrests happen much faster.
We doubt that twice as many people are driving intoxicated this year compared to last. So these numbers show that GPD is serious about getting intoxicated motorists off the street.
The district attorney is also not dismissing many cases—only about 20 thus far. About 120 people have been convicted or are facing other punishment, and the remainder are working their way through the system.
How Does this Impact You?
You might not think that stepped up patrols will have any impact on you. Think again. Many people unfortunately believe that they can get behind the wheel and drive a couple miles home from a bar or restaurant. If you’ve had too much to drink you can easily face DWI charges no matter how much alcohol you consumed. A driver with even a little alcohol in their bloodstream can face DWI charges if they are not operating their vehicle safely.
We anticipate that GPD will continue to pull people over who show classic signs of intoxication:
- Brake checking: you hit the brakes regularly out of fear of speeding.
- Swerving: drunk drivers often have poor coordination, which leads to swerving in and out of lanes.
- Running a red light or stop sign: inebriated drivers often can’t stop their vehicles in time.
- Taking wide turns: lack of coordination leads to very wide turns and possible collisions with cars stopped at the light.
- Driving too slowly or too fast: these behaviors will draw the attention of police.
And if this program is successful, look for it to spread to other Texas cities. They all have an incentive to reduce traffic fatalities. In fact, the state’s Department of Transportation has started a new program to increase awareness of the deadly consequences of DWI.
Charged with DWI in Galveston?
Contact Our DWI Defense Team
DWI is one of the most serious criminal offenses you can face. Defendants face not only mandatory time in jail but also a suspended license and increased insurance costs. It truly doesn’t pay to drink and drive.
Call Tad Nelson at 409-904-0075 to talk with one of the most experienced DWI defense lawyers in the state. We can attack the science behind your case and fight for your freedom. To find out more, call our law firm to speak with a member of our team.