HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A number of law enforcement agencies in the Rio Grande valley are increasing patrols as Spring Break approaches for many school districts, colleges and universities.

Island police prepared

Claudine O’Carroll, chief of police at the South Padre Island Police Department, said this is her 25th year patrolling during Spring Break.

This week the department has a meeting with state, local and federal partners to see what availability will be like from collaborating agencies.

Partners include Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Cameron County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security which helps with logistics such as radio operations and mobile command centers.

“We’re all visible and in the area,” O’Carroll said. The chief said the department also does a hiring push prior to Spring Break to recruit jailers and other law enforcement for all hands on deck on the ground.

The Sheriff’s Office assists by incorporating a sky tower that helps patrol for nighttime operations.

“I’m a mom and the concern is always the safety of the general public and ensuring their wellbeing,” O’Carroll said. “A big part if it is being prepared for what’s not expected. I never go into Spring Break thinking it’s going to be routine.”

She said in the past few years there has been an increase in families attending Spring Break festivities on the Island.

Additionally, the Pharr Police Department will be increasing patrols through March 19, according to a release from Pharr PD.

“To help us keep our roadways safe we ask the public to please buckle up, follow speed limits, don`t drink and drive, and obey all other traffic laws,” the release stated.

Drunk driving fatalities in Texas

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas highways saw 874 DUI-alcohol-related traffic crashes during Spring Break 2021. Of those crashes, 31 were fatalities and 107 involved serious injuries.

To mitigate the number of drunk drivers on the roadways, the department listed the costly estimated fees that come with driving while intoxicated.

A DUI charge can result in:

  • A fine of up to $2000 & up to 180 days in jail
  • Bail: up to $1,000
  • Court costs: up to $500
  • Attorney fees: average of up to $9,400
  • Probation fees (12 months): up to $1,200
  • Alcohol education course: $70 to $200
  • Increased car insurance: $1,000
  • Car impound and towing fee: $200
  • Car storage fees (up to 5 days): $100
  • Ignition interlock device (12 months): $1,400
  • Restitution amounts: not included

The McAllen Police Department in partnership with TxDOT and other Hidalgo County law enforcement agencies will be participating in the Impaired Driving Mobilization for its Spring Break campaign which will also run through the end of Texas week.

The aim of the campaign is to mitigate the number of drunk drivers on the roadways as well as other traffic law violators.

TxDOT drive sober campaign

The Texas Department of Transportation is also launching its statewide Drive Sober. No Regrets. campaign to host outreach events at key Spring break locations.

On Friday, March 17, which is St. Patrick’s Day, there will be a TxDOT stop at Clayton’s Beach Bar & Grill on South Padre Island.

The last time there was a day in Texas where no one died on a roadway accident was Nov. 7, 2000.