Police Crack Down On New Year's DWIs

by Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - The holidays are highlighted by a closer watch on drunk drivers.

Officers told NewsWest 9, this year they wanted to keep West Texans safer than ever, and the results show.

With drunk driving accidents and fatalities on the rise, Texas DPS and Midland Police said enough was enough.

"You saw a lot of police cars on the street," Lieutenant Ray Leible with the Midland Police Department, said.

On a night like New Year's Eve, when most people drink, officers made sure they didn't drive.

And in 2010, they were happy with what they saw.

They said sometimes that increased presence of police is all it takes to keep the bottle out of the driver's seat.

DPS told NewsWest 9 that out of both Midland and Odessa, they only had three DWIs.

"The word spreads," DPS Trooper John Barton, said. "And it lets those people know that we're out there in force, taking care of what needs to be done."

Police in Midland set a personal goal for themselves to not have a single injury or fatality due to drunk driving.

"We put together a DWI strategy specifically for New Year's Eve," Leible said.

Of the 36 officers working that night, nine were specifically designated for drunk drivers. They met their goal and arrested 12 drunk drivers.

"We want people to know that in the City of Midland, if you decide to drive drunk, you've got a pretty good chance of getting caught," Leible said.

Now they say the next step is to continue designating officers for drunk drivers on future weekends, where they say the problem only goes up after the holiday lights go down.

"It's those other times that we're concerned," Barton said. "When they're thinking it's just a regular Friday or Saturday and they don't take those precautions."

"We know our presence makes a difference," Leible said. "And we're just gonna keep doing that."

Midland officers did tell NewsWest 9 they're working on a plan to start having a couple officers be specifically designated for DWIs on future weekends. It's all in an effort to keep West Texans safe on the roads.