HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The holidays are here and many will be out celebrating with friends and family, but the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDOT) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is making sure people are aware of the consequences of drinking and driving.
“The happiest time of the year can turn into the worst time of the year in an instant,” said MADD’s victim services specialist, Ana Verley.
Verley explained that drunk driving accidents should not be considered accidents.
“An accident is something you can’t avoid, and drunk driving is 100% avoidable,” said Verley.
As more people travel on Texas roads during this season, more issues with accidents can occur.
“You know the deadliest period on the highways is between Thanksgiving and New Year’s,” said Verley.
Raul Leal, TxDOT’s public information officer, said their annual campaign “Drive Sober. No Regrets” aims to bring awareness to Texas drivers.
“Our stats show us that last year in 2020, 2,462 DUI alcohol-related traffic crashes occurred in Texas during the holiday season,” said Leal.
He explained that the crashes resulted in 93 deaths and 215 serious injuries.
“In the lower Rio Grande Valley, in 2020 there were 1,113 DUI-related crashes, resulting in 20 fatalities and 78 injuries,” said Leal.
Leal and Verley said there are simple ways to be safe when celebrating and driving this season.
“If you’ve been drinking call a taxi, use a ride share service, or stay where you are or call a family or friend,” said Leal.
Verley recommended party hosts take guests’ keys or make arrangements to ensure guests arrive home safely.
Leal explained that driving under the influence can result in serious damages and fines.
“Driving while intoxicated can cost up to $17,000 in fines and fees, jail time, loss of a driver’s license, difficulty of finding or keeping a job, loss of trust from loved ones, and a lifetime of regrets,” he said.
Leal said state troopers and local law enforcement officers will be patrolling highways and communities over the Christmas and New Year’s eve weekend to monitor drivers and ensure everyone’s safety.