Drinking offenses on the rise during event season

The Fort Worth Police Department, along with the Arlington and Grand Prairie police departments, are in the beginning stage of creating a program to deter underage drinking and driving, specifically for this time of year, a Fort Worth police sergeant said.

Sgt. Rodney Bangs of the Fort Worth Police Department said motorists driving under the influence and traffic fatalities are more frequent throughout the country this time of year.

“With proms, concerts and special events coming up, we ask the public for voluntary compliance to obey the law,” said Lt. Charlie Cloud, of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in Tarrant County.

Cloud said during the months of April and May, his department is aware of the increase of offenders.

TABC doesn’t have the luxury of adding more staff during these next few months, Cloud said, but he said officers will continue to do their jobs and be present at numerous venues.

The new program may include a “No Refusal” DWI policy, and if a motorist does not wish to take an alcohol breath test, police would be able to request a blood search warrant, Bangs said.

The blood search warrant would override the refusal, allowing police to take blood samples to determine whether a person had been driving while intoxicated, Bangs said.

The “No Refusal” DWI policy was used on New Year’s Eve last year, and those who refused a breath test were subject to a blood test. The average blood alcohol concentration was 0.2 percent, which is more than double the legal limit of 0.08 percent in Texas, Bangs said.

The Fort Worth Police Department has increased its enforcement through state grants, allowing more officers to be on the lookout for drunk drivers, he said.

Yvonne Giovanis, assistant director of the Alcohol and Drug Education Center at TCU, said April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and this is a good time to raise awareness because all the end-of-the-year activities, such as graduation and formals, are taking place.

“In high school, drinking is more focused on single events like prom, graduation and homecoming, but in college, students drink at tailgates, friends’ parties and at numerous other locations,” Giovanis said.

The focus and primary objective of TCU’s Alcohol and Drug Education Center is to inform students on the effects drinking can have on one’s body, Giovanis said.

In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month, the Alcohol and Drug Education Center has had numerous activities on campus including Kegs, Cocktails and the Commons, where students could learn about the legal and psychological impacts of drinking.

“We want students to realize and consider the appropriate times, places and situations to drink if they choose to do so,” Giovanis said.