Kendra Lyn, NBC 5 News
North Texas police will be out in full force over New Years Eve weekend to catch drunk drivers.
Local police are working to keep drivers safe on the roads this long holiday weekend by cracking down on drunken driving.
Troopers are warning drivers ahead of the holidays to hand over your keys if you plan to drink any alcohol. Stepped up patrols will be out on the roads specifically targeting intoxicated drivers.
Officers say they're not trying to be a buzz kill, they're trying to prevent people from being killed.
"Don't drink and drive. Last year, our troopers, during the same holiday period, arrested more than 1,100 drivers for drunk driving," said Sgt. Lonny Haschel, with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The DPS is increasing DWI patrols from Dec. 21 through Jan. 1. DPS troopers will focus DWI patrols in high-risk locations at times when alcohol-related crashes are most frequent. The enhanced patrols that target intoxicated drivers are funded through a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation.
Troopers are also teaming up with many local cities, like Irving, Dallas and North Richland Hills, for a "No Refusal" weekend. That means with a warrant, a judge can force drivers arrested for drunk driving to submit to a blood test.
"Drivers don't have an option. The magistrate right there will do a probable cause affidavit and you're going to give blood. To not have to deal with that, give those keys to someone else," said Haschel.
Troopers said the alternative can be sobering. Wednesday, a grand jury indicted Cowboys player Josh Brent for intoxication manslaughter. Police said Brent's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit at the time of the crash that killed his friend and teammate, Jerry Brown.
"It can happen to anyone. It doesn't make a difference. You need to make that decision, don't get behind the wheel. You can cause your life, as you know it, to be over. You may kill or injure one of your close friends or family members. Even if you simply get arrested, it's time away from your family," said Haschel.
It can cost lives and your pocketbook. Expenses add up from a towing bill to bond money, fines to attorney's fees.
"The average drunk driving arrest in Texas costs $17,000. It's not worth it. Just make that decision before you take your first drink," said Haschel.
Law enforcement agencies hope that announcing this effort ahead of time will serve to deter those individuals who might otherwise ignore the risks connected with driving while intoxicated.