Police crack down on drunk driving

The Houston Police Department displays their new Breath Alcohol Testing Van also known as the "no refusal van."

February 16, 2011 9:26:42 AM PST
Houston has a dangerous and deadly problem on the roadways. Harris County leads the nation in driving while intoxicated fatalities. The county is now looking for new ways to prevent it and protect other drivers. The plan involves more manpower. Twice as many officers will be out on the roads, but the patrol officers will be backed up by what are being called 'BAT' vans. The Breath Alcohol Testing vans will head out to all parts of town in the hopes of getting drunk drivers off the streets.

The BAT van will be stationary. When a patrol officer brings a suspect back to the van, they will be process and they will also take a breathalyzer test. Depending on the outcome of the breathalyzer test, that suspect will be put in a holding area in the back of the van.

Harris County leads the nation in DWI crashes and fatalities. Officials with HPD say they are frustrated with those numbers and this initiative is an effort to help get those numbers down.

"We're going to send a couple on the south side and a couple on the north side every week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday," said HPD Asst. Chief Brian Lumpkin. "We're going to get out there and we're going to find some of these drunks before they get into crashes."

This initiative started last weekend. We're told they've already made 19 more arrests this year than at this time last year.

Next month there will be a few more BAT vans. There will be six vans total, and they will be on the streets in time for Spring Break and March Madness. We're told that's a high time for DWIs on the streets of Houston.