On Friday and Saturday night, Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers coordinated by Sgt. T. Barnhill conducted a DWI enforcement effort on the Interstate 45 corridor in Montgomery County, including area roadways where significant DWI incidents have occurred. District Attorney and Texas Department of Transportation No Refusal staff assisted in the operation by staffing the event with investigators to assist the officers with booking paperwork, prosecutors and judges to prepare and review warrants for arrestees who refused to comply with the law regarding voluntary samples of blood after arrest, and medical professionals to draw scientific samples for use as evidence in prosecutions. The effort was organized by DPS, but other local agencies also assisted by enforcing DWI laws during the same period. During No Refusal efforts, police officers conduct increased DWI patrols while No Refusal staff assist in warrant preparation, judges volunteer for warrant review, and medical staff assist by obtaining scientific samples for use in court. When a person arrested for DWI refuses to provide a sample, prosecutors review the case for a search warrant under the Code of Criminal Procedure. Montgomery County is a national role model for this program and this effort further validates the lifesaving work of area law enforcement.
Organizers are pleased to announce that there were no DWI related fatalities or serious crashes reported during this effort. This pattern continues a trend in significant reductions of DWI fatality charges in the county. Montgomery County District Attorney, Brett Ligon, attributes this trend to local law enforcement and the No Refusal program by deterring impaired driving in general but also by collecting strong evidence. Ligon states that scientific evidence is preferred by Texas statutes and the United States Constitution and that the No Refusal effort plays a significant role in ensuring full compliance with the law. Ligon also states that scientific evidence is critical to ensure that the guilty are punished and the innocent go free.
This weekend’s efforts, including charges from other agencies, resulted in 43 DWI charges (including 30 first offender arrests and 13 repeat or serious offender charges) and 14 search warrants being reviewed and signed by volunteer judges. The refusal rate for the event was approximately 33% which represents a continuing trend of refusal reductions in the county. DWI cases with scientific evidence are about 100 times less likely to result in trial settings thereby saving tax payer time and dollars. Of the 43 charges, DPS troopers arrested 23 individuals, MCSO deputies arrested 11 individuals, and CPD officers arrested 7 individuals (2 agencies not listed). The breath test results from the weekend ranged from 0.15 to 0.22 while blood test results should be available in 2-4 weeks. No Refusal prosecutors Tyler Dunman and Mike Holley assisted with these efforts. Sergeant T. Barnhill coordinated the effort for DPS. In addition, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents conducted undercover operations in some local establishments that have been the subject of over serving complaints.
Public Information Spokesperson for DPS, Eric Burse, stated that the county has made significant gains in ensuring public safety, but the fact that 43 people were arrested for DWI shows that these efforts will need to continue. Burse stated that DWI is the most frequently committed crime in the county and thanked area law enforcement for their dedication to protecting the public from the dangers created by impaired drivers. Burse further stated that a DWI arrest can cost more than $15,000 including lawyer’s fees, thereby making a designated driver a much cheaper and safer option than risking an arrest.
Individuals charged with DWI pursuant to a No Refusal warrant are listed as:
VIKKI WAFER AKASQUIRES
OSCAR GOMEZ JR.