By Sylvia Gonzalez
MIDLAND/ODESSA - The number of DWI arrests in the Basin is skyrocketing. NewsWest 9 spoke to Odessa and Midland Police to find out why.
"If that pace keeps up, it probably will be an increase of over 100 DWI arrests made for 2012," Lieutenant Ray Leible, with the Midland Police Department, said.
Lt. Leible is referring to the number of DWI arrests made for this year. Last year, a total of 580 DWI arrests were made. This year, we're closing fast on that number. So far, over 350 drunk drivers have been busted. Leible says the influx of people is the biggest contributing factor but there is another factor that's making the numbers grow.
"Couple of years a go, we started a fatality reduction strategy and in that we put an emphasis on DWI enforcement, if you look at the last couple of years our DWI arrests have increased and will continue to do so," Leible said.
The Midland Police Department is not the only local law enforcement seeing a hike in their DWI arrest. Cpl. Sherrie Carruth with the Odessa Police Department tells NewsWest 9, they have seen an increase as well.
"When you are looking at the time frame of January to July 10th from 2011 to 2012, there's been an increase of about 17 reported cases of DWI," Carruth said.
She says their numbers continue to grow as more out-of-towners flock to their bars or shopping centers and most don't leave without having a drink or two. Because of that, she says their patrols have also stepped up.
"The Step Grant that we have, officers have been making necessary efforts to concentrate on just like they are doing traffic enforcement they are also doing DWI enforcement," Carruth said.
Both Leible and Carruth say the more arrests they make, the more confident they feel that they're saving someone's life.
Phyllis Peek, Victim Advocate for "STOP DWI," says the numbers are alarming, but she believes this is a sign of local law enforcement doing their job.