Troopers prepare for drunken spring breakers

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By Jennifer Luna

jluna217@student.alamo.edu

Starting Friday, highway patrol troopers pay special attention along Highway 37 to South Padre because of spring break, highway patrol Trooper Jason Reyes said in an interview Tuesday. “We’re beefing our patrols up,” Reyes said.

Reyes said some key indicators to spot an intoxicated driver include speeding, driving erratically, and missing headlights at night.

For a first time DUI or DWI offender, the driver will be sent to county jail; the judge might issue a bond.

Reyes said the estimated cost is $17,000 to bond out and pay attorney fees.

A DUI can be issued if the driver is under 21 and appears to be drinking but is not intoxicated. With a DUI, the drivers license can be lost and alcohol classes are mandatory. A citation for a DUI can be issued depending on county and judge.

Expect a DWI charge and arrest if a driver, regardless of age, exceeds the legal limit of 0.08.

In 2009, there were 45,230 drivers involved in fatal crashes, and 4,597 drivers were between the ages of 21-24. About 34.5 percent of the 4,597 drivers had a body alcohol content higher than 0.08 in 2009. Adults between the ages 21-24 had the highest percentage of blood alcohol content than people ages 16-20 years and under and 75 years and older.

“Alcohol effects the central nervous system,” psychology Professor Thomas Billimek, said, adding as more alcohol is consumed, the level of functioning decreases. “You might not see a person stepping out from a curb,” he said.

Driving Laws website said the first offense of a DUI is license suspension, a minimum of 90 days. In a first offense for a DUI or a DWI, the driver will be incarcerated for three to 180 days. A driver 21 and older will be fined $2,000, and a minor, $10,000. Texas also is a part of a surcharge program for DUI and DWI offenders.

Offenders must pay $1,000 for three years. If the BAC is 0.16, the payment increases to $2,000. A conviction remains on record and influences future DUI/DWI criminal cases for 10 years.

For more information about driving laws visit www.drivinglaws.org.

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