'No Refusal DWI Initiative' launched ahead of New Year's celebrations

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Sunday, December 31, 2023
DWI initiative launched to keep drunk drivers off roads on New Year's
Harris County authorities launched a "No Refusal DWI Initiative" to keep drunk drivers off the roads for New Year's.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Authorities in Harris County are warning everyone not to drink and drive this New Year's holiday weekend.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office announced its plans on Thursday to pull over-intoxicated or impaired drivers under a "No Refusal DWI Initiative" ahead of the end-of-year celebrations.

Drivers will not be allowed to refuse a blood alcohol test if they are suspected of being impaired. Checkpoints will be set up across Harris County starting Friday night.

This is something officials do every year just in time for the holidays. Last year's efforts yielded 42 DWI arrests and 18 additional non-DWI arrests.

SEE PREVIOUS REPORT: Houston police warn against DWI and celebratory gunfire ahead of New Year's Eve

Harris County has one of the highest rates of deadly DWI crashes in the country.

According to TxDOT, the county had 148 people killed in DUI crashes in 2022. Statewide, more than 1,000 people died in crashes that involved impaired drivers.

During Thursday's press conference, the family of Deputy Jennifer Chavis, who was killed by a suspected drunk driver in 2022, reminded everyone that each one of those is more than just a number.

"When we talk about realities, this is the reality of drunk driving that you see before you," Chavis' sister said. "We and their family as well stand before you with pictures because that's all that we have left."

HPD Chief Troy Finner also attended Thursday's meeting, saying these incidents are "100% preventable."

"And that's what's so frustrating, because we come time and time again - and Harris County time and time again leads the nation in DWI-related deaths," he continued. "Because you don't want to be in jail, but we're going to be out there. And most importantly - we don't want to see any more victims."

SEE ALSO: Texas ranked 3rd worst state for drunk driving in sobering new report

House Bill 393 was passed earlier this year, which requires drunk drivers to pay child support if they kill a child's guardian.

If the driver is convicted of intoxication manslaughter, they will have to make payments to the child until they turn 18 years old or graduate from high school.

If you're celebrating this New Year's Eve, you are asked to plan ahead. Set up a ride home with a sober friend, family member, or rideshare service. Or, stay put until you're sober.