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AUSTIN, TX — The Texas
Department of Transportation, police departments, and sheriff’s offices
across Texas are working together to reduce impaired driving this summer
and especially during the upcoming Labor Day weekend. TxDOT is
illustrating the choice between getting a sober ride or risking a DWI by
driving after drinking with an arresting image—unique vehicles that are
a police patrol car on the front end and a taxi cab on the back end.

“The only way to
be sure you’ll avoid a DWI is by never getting behind the wheel after
drinking alcohol, ” said Carol Rawson, TxDOT’s Traffic Operations
Division Director. “We’re reminding Texans that there are many options
they can choose for getting home that don’t include drinking and
driving.”

The “Choose Your Ride” effort
will incorporate modified patrol cars from police departments and
sheriff’s offices in communities with a high incidence of
alcohol-related fatalities. TxDOT will also run new television spots,
radio ads, billboards, wall postings, web and mobile phone ads along
with targeted messages in major market bar and restaurant districts.

Traditional and alternative media efforts will raise awareness of the
consequences of a DWI conviction and the alternatives available to
Texans: calling a cab, designating a sober driver ahead of time, using
public transportation, staying put, calling a friend or family member
for a ride, taking a pedicab, and more.

From August 20 to September 6, law enforcement statewide will be working overtime to find and arrest impaired drivers.

“Last year during the two-week
crackdown, officers around the state worked nearly 18, 000 combined
hours of overtime specifically looking for intoxicated drivers, ” said
Commander Stephen Baker of the Austin Police Department. “If we pull you
over and you’ve been drinking, you’re going to be arrested.”

Convicted first-time DWI
offenders can pay a fine of up to $2, 000, lose their driver’s license
for up to a year, and serve 180 days in jail. Safety officials say other
costs associated with an impaired driving arrest and conviction can add
up to more than $17, 000 for bail, legal fees, court appearances,
court-ordered classes, vehicle insurance increases, and other expenses.

Of course, the consequences of
driving under the influence can be much worst. In 2009, there were
27, 108 alcohol-related crashes in Texas that resulted in 955 deaths and
17, 542 injuries (preliminary data).

The National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas
Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and
hundreds of local law enforcement agencies are participating in the


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