HCSO crackdown in effect

By Terri Hahn, thahn@marshallnewsmessenger.com
Friday, December 18, 2009
Harrison County Sheriff's deputies will be beefing up patrols through the holiday season, working overtime to halt alcohol- and traffic-related offenses.
"An $8,000 grant has been provided by the Texas Department of Transportation to provide overtime during the high peak holiday hours," said Harrison County Capt. Ray Palmer. "This is the second year the grant has been offered to Harrison County."
Funds for the grant are afforded through the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program. The program also has a speed enforcement element that is conducted year-round, Palmer said.
Additional patrols are being made available for the Christmas and New Year's holidays, with the program ending Jan. 3.
"We give the deputies the flexibility of choosing when to participate. They work overtime as their schedule permits," said Palmer, who added that additional patrols will not interfere with regular duties.
Investigator Bill Turner and Lt. Bill Granger will be working continuously through the holidays to curb alcohol-related offenses, he added.
"It is open to any officer who wants to go out and work any alcohol-related violations," he said.
Among those offenses are driving while intoxicated, minor in possession or open container \ "anything that concerns alcohol."
Nationwide in 2008, there were 11,773 fatalities in crashes involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher \ 32 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year \ according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Of those fatalities, 3,382 occurred in Texas. An intoxicated driver or motorcycle rider was involved in 1,269 of those cases. There were 882 people killed in Texas crashes in 2008 in which a driver had a BAC of .15 or higher, according to the NHTSA.
"We just want to remind everyone to drink at the house, only drink in moderation and use a designated driver," said Palmer. "There is no legal limit for drivers under 21. They can't have any alcohol in their system."
Harrison County deputies will also be monitoring speed and seat belt use.
"The objective is to keep the highways as safe as possible, so people can enjoy the holidays with their families," said Palmer.
The 2008 statistics show 6,316 passenger vehicle drivers killed had a BAC of .08 or higher and, out of those, 73 percent were unrestrained. Drivers above the legal BAC limit involved in fatal crashes were also eight times more likely to have a prior conviction for driving while impaired than drivers with no alcohol, according to the NHTSA.
Also in 2008, a total of 216 children ages 14 and younger were killed in alcohol-impaired crashes, with 99 of those occupants in a vehicle with a driver with a BAC level of .08 or higher, according to the NHTSA.
Another 34 children were pedestrians or bicycle riders struck by drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher, according to the NHTSA.
"We will be doing whatever we can do to keep the public safe," said Palmer.