Valley law enforcement agencies launch campaigns targeting drunk driving

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With the Fourth of July right around the corner local law enforcement authorities across the Rio Grande Valley are partnering in campaigns aimed to curb drunk driving together with the Texas Department of Transportation.

The campaign which will run through Sunday, July 9 will help promote safe driving through educational and enforcement efforts.

The McAllen Police Department is advising motorists to plan ahead for a sober ride such as having a designated driver, calling a taxi, a sober friend or family member, using a ride share service or staying home.

Throughout the campaign, which McAllen police referred to as the Impaired Driving Mobilization Independence Day campaign, the department will be increasing its enforcement efforts and looking for impaired drivers and other law violations.

The Weslaco Police Department is also partnering with TxDOT in their Faces of Drunk Driving Campaign which will also run through July 9.

According to the department, last year 26% of traffic fatalities in the state of Texas involved a drunk driver.

“On average, this translates to one person losing their life every 7 hours and 32 minutes, amounting to three lives per day,” Weslaco police said via Facebook. “Disturbingly, despite a 3% decrease in drunk driving-related traffic crashes from the previous year, the number of fatalities increased by 2% in 2022.”

Officials want to remind residents that driving while under the influence can “lead to severe and often irreversible physical, emotional and financial consequences,” for those involved.

Not only can incidents stemming from driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence cause irreversible damage but it can also be a financial burden, result in legal trouble, hinder job prospects, cause distrust from loved ones and instill a lifetime of regret, Weslaco police warned.

Along with police departments in the area District Attorneys Toribio “Terry” Palacios of Hidalgo County and Luis V. Saenz of Cameron County announced that starting June 29 through July 4 their agencies will be enforcing the “No Refusal Weekend.”

Throughout that time any drivers who are intoxicated while behind the wheel will be arrested and charged.

“(One) in 4 traffic deaths on Texas roads is caused by drunk drivers, about 38% of the total traffic fatalities during the Fourth of July holiday reporting period in Texas involve drivers under the influence of alcohol,” the Cameron County DA’s office said in a news release.

“The statistics are alarming,” the DA’s office continued, adding that in an effort to combat impaired driving the Rio Grande Valley District Attorney Coalition is partnering in the campaign.

The coalition also includes District Attorneys Gocha Allen Ramirez of Starr County and Annette Hinojosa of Willacy County.