Cameron County DA warns against driving drunk during no-refusal weekend

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Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz speaks as he is presented with a certificate of appreciation from the Department of Public Safety South Texas Region during a press conference along with other Cameron County law enforcement agencies during Memorial Day DWI no-refusal weekend awareness Friday, May 26, 2023, in Brownsville. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

With area residents counting down to the long Memorial Day weekend, Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz held his annual press conference on Friday morning announcing a “no-refusal DWI weekend” and urging residents not to mix alcohol and driving.

Saenz made his comments from a wooden podium facing the Cameron County Administrative Building, a phalanx of officers from municipal, county and state law-enforcement agencies standing behind him in support.

“Have a great weekend,” he said. “Have a great, long holiday weekend with your families. Do fun things. Be together. Enjoy it, but be very, very careful with drinking and driving. We are here to tell you that in Cameron County, if you drink and drive you’re going to meet one of these gentlemen and ladies.

“Do not drink and drive. You will be arrested. You can refuse a breath test because that’s your prerogative. But if you refuse a breath test these law enforcement officers are going to go get a warrant, and they’re going to get a blood draw.”

Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz speaks on regards to DWIs during a press conference along with other Cameron County law enforcement agencies during Memorial Day DWI no-refusal weekend awareness Friday, May 26, 2023, in Brownsville. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Cameron County is actually a “no-refusal county” year round, Saenz pointed out. The policy was first implemented by the Brownsville Police Department in 2014 and then expanded county-wide due to its success.

“Eight years later, our jurisdiction has seen a decrease in intoxication-related manslaughters and assaults,” the DA’s office said in a press release.

Saenz said Cameron County is the only no-refusal county south of San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Laredo.

“School’s out, the weather’s beautiful, gas prices are down,” he said. “Experts are predicting that this year a record number of people are going to be hitting the roads. It’s post-COVID, it’s a three-day holiday. Along with all those good things comes the risk of DWI. … People need to know that if you break the law you will be held accountable.”

Saenz also gave kudos to the many law-enforcement officers in attendance for the event.

“Thank you all very, very much on behalf of the citizens of Cameron County for the work that you do, not just this weekend but every day of every month and every month of every year. … God bless you, keep up the good work and keep protecting our citizens,” he said.

Chris Olivares, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety South Texas region, praised the DA’s commitment to ensuring public safety through the no-refusal policy, calling it a “testament to his professionalism and leadership.” Olivares, on behalf of DPS, presented Saenz and his staff with a framed certificate of appreciation “for their hard work and their dedication.”

Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz speaks as he is presented with a certificate of appreciation from the Department of Public Safety South Texas Region during a press conference along with other Cameron County law enforcement agencies during Memorial Day DWI no-refusal weekend awareness Friday, May 26, 2023, in Brownsville. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

“In recognition of your office’s commitment to the safety of our community, your unwavering partnership with the Texas Department of Public Safety has enhanced our mission of protecting and serving Texas,” Olivares said, reading from the certificate. “Your professionalism reflects positively upon the state of Texas.”

“I want to accept this … on behalf of all these fine officers who are behind me,” Saenz said. “It’s you guys that deserve this award, because you do the hard work. You do the dangerous work. You do the community work.”

He went on to pledge his “unconditional support for law enforcement.”

“Regardless of what color uniform you wear, what size badge you wear, we’re all on the same team, and our objective is very simple: To provide for a safe community,” Saenz said.