Labor Day weekend is always buzzing with fun gatherings, recreational outings and more. It’s also a time of increased wrecklessness. That’s why law enforcement – on the roads and on the water – will be amping up its efforts to patrol for drunk drivers and boaters.
Drink. Drive. Go to Jail.
TxDOT encourages everyone to have a plan for a sober ride before going out. Visit SoberRides.org to locate alternatives to drinking and driving, including:
Calling a taxi or using a transportation app on your smartphone.
Using mass transit.
Asking a sober friend or family member for a ride home.
Spending the night.
Boating Safety Tips
When heading out to the water, don’t drink if you are going to be operating a boat, wear your lifejacket even if you are a good swimmer and if on a personal watercraft, keep at least 50 feet away from other personal watercrafts, vessels, the shore or any object such as a boat dock.
Wear a personal flotation device
Be especially careful on personal watercrafts
Children younger than 13 must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while underway
Take a boater education class
Don’t overload your boat
Operate at a safe speed
Have a passenger serving as a lookout in addition to the operator
In light of the ongoing drought, watch out for low water areas or submerged objects
Carry extra PFDs in both adult and child sizes
PWC operators and passengers must wear a life jacket
Maintain a 50-foot distance from other PWCs, vessels, persons, shore, stationary platform or other objects unless operating at idle speed
The Texas Department of Transportation reminds drivers that law enforcement officers across the state are out in full force looking for drunk drivers through Labor Day, Sept. 7. Last year in Texas, 21 people were killed and 42 were seriously injured in 338 alcohol-related crashes over the Labor Day holiday.
“Labor Day weekend is a fun time for family and friends to celebrate, but you absolutely must have a sober-ride plan if you’re going to consume alcohol,” says TxDOT Executive Director Lt. Gen Joe Weber, USMC (Ret). “Too many people are killed on our roads each year – especially during holidays – due to impaired driving. These crashes are inexcusable and 100 percent preventable.”
Many Texas communities implement “no-refusal” programs over Labor Day weekend, authorizing law enforcement officials to obtain blood samples from suspected drunk drivers and motorcyclists. Drivers convicted of DWI in Texas face costs up to $17,000 plus possible jail time, limited career prospects and loss of driver’s license.
Texas game wardens also will be patrolling the state’s public waters this Labor Day Weekend to make sure all boaters, anglers and swimmers get home safely. They will be on the lookout for boat operators who have had too much to drink.
So far this year, TPWD game wardens have arrested 148 people statewide for boating while intoxicated. In 2014, game wardens took 163 people to jail for BWI.
Because boating while intoxicated is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated for everyone involved, it provides the same penalties as DWI, including fines and possible jail time.
Last year in Texas, 167 boating accidents were reported by the U.S. Coast Guard, 34 of which ended with deaths. In 17 of the fatal cases, alcohol was a contributing factor.