By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
Law enforcement in Killeen and all across Texas will be stepping up enforcement this weekend with traffic patrols dedicated solely to catching drivers under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
The Texas Department of Transportation has provided grant money to the Killeen Police Department in order to fund the overtime required to keep extra officers on the road.
The stepped-up enforcement is being conducted on a weekend where officials expect an increased amount of drivers on the road because of the three-day weekend, TxDOT spokeswoman Tracie Mendez said.
With families getting together for picnics and barbecues coupled with the opening of college football season, many people will be drinking alcoholic beverages this weekend, Mendez said. While police have no problems with people celebrating, officers are very concerned with the decisions people will make when it comes to driving.
"Our ultimate goal is to reduce our deaths and injuries on Texas highways. We don't want people to go to jail," Mendez said.
Sgt. Sam Ellis of KPD said the department has been participating in "impaired driver mobilization" since Aug. 20. Increased enforcement peaks this weekend, he said.
Besides more patrols, the department also hopes the half police car half taxi cab, dubbed a Cop/Cab, they have parked along Fort Hood Street will remind drivers to be responsible.
"It's just a reminder that if you've been drinking, make the right choice. Take a taxi so you don't end up on the police half of that car," Ellis said.
The cars are part of TxDOT's "Drink, Drive, Go to Jail" campaign, which has been running numerous commercials on radio and television recently. The campaign is a partnership between the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Texas Department of Transportation, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Last year during the Labor Day weekend wave of increased patrols, officers across the state worked 18,000 combined hours searching for intoxicated drivers, according to a news release from TxDOT.
In 2009, 955 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, the release states.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.