Hidalgo County law enforcement to crack down on Labor Day drunk driving

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Hidalgo County District Attorney Toribio “Terry” Palacios addresses the public regarding the upcoming “No Refusal Weekend” beginning Thursday for Labor Day on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023. (Xavier Alvarez | The Monitor)

Too many lives have been lost on state and local roads due to intoxicated drivers.

Last year alone, 1,203 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in Texas.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation Pharr District, there were 1,310 alcohol-related crashes which resulted in 49 fatalities last year in the Rio Grande Valley.

Hidalgo County District Attorney Toribio “Terry” Palacios was joined by Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra, law enforcement agencies from throughout Hidalgo County, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others to kick off the coming “No Refusal Weekend” for Labor Day, which begins Thursday.

The 8th Annual Labor Day DWI “No Refusal Weekend” press conference was held at the Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s Office Tuesday morning.

Palacios stated at the conference that law enforcement agencies will be joining forces to combat the ongoing issue of impaired driving.

“This holiday has been one of the most deadly and often committed and yet preventable of crimes,” Palacios said. “Driving while impaired is a serious problem in our county.”

He warned that law enforcement will increase their vigilance in searching for impaired drivers, stating that the campaign isn’t about making arrests, it’s about keeping impaired drivers off the road.

Analicia Zarate, 27, who lost her mother to a drunk driver when she was four, spoke at the conference and reminded those in attendance that fatal DWI crashes can happen at any moment as she lost her mother on a Sunday night when returning from church.

“This was 23 years ago, I was four years old,” Zarate said. “Today, I turn 27, and it is something I carry with me every single day.

“I do these conferences and these public speakings to bring awareness to our community that this is something that does happen. If it hasn’t happened to you, it will happen at some point in our lifetime. Statistics are high, unfortunately.”

Zarate and Palacios both offered advice for those wishing to celebrate Labor Day with some alcohol and that’s to plan ahead.

Palacios said you can order a taxi, a Lyft, an Uber or find someone willing to be a designated driver in order to get home safe and avoid hurting others.

Sgt. Maria Montalvo from the Texas Department of Public Safety called the act of driving while intoxicated to be “evil” and a preventable crime.

Montalvo gave insight to the narrative from the perspective of a law enforcement officer who’s experienced many fatal crashes.

“For the most part, law enforcement personnel here present this morning all have a story to tell regarding a DWI-related crash that has left a disturbing impact within,” Montalvo said. “DWI is a horrific monster … It’s evil and it’s roaming our streets and taking innocent lives.”

The “No Refusal Weekend” will begin Thursday, Aug. 31 and will continue through until Monday, Sept. 4.