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Surrounded by representatives from every law enforcement agency in Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez Jr. and Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra announced the county wide implementation of the "No Refusal" Weekend during the Labor Day holiday.
From Thursday, Sept. 3 to Monday, Sept. 7, law enforcement officers will be cracking-down on suspected drunk drivers. While there have been local and state efforts to combat drinking and driving with checkpoints, this is the first-time, ever, that every law enforcement agency – Countywide – will join forces to tell drivers suspected of drunk driving that saying “no” to providing a breath sample or blood test is not an option, said Rodriguez.
Among the law enforcement agencies taking part in the crack-down are: the 20 Police Departments – that’s every city in Hidalgo County; our Sheriff’s Office; DPS Troopers; and our Constables. Each agency will all be on alert for drunk drivers.
During these five days, if you are pulled over for drunk driving, you will be given a field sobriety test – including a breath test. Should the driver refuse, the officer will obtain a warrant and the driver will be subject to blood testing at the scene, at a medical facility or in jail. People with a Blood Alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher will be prosecuted. That’s the No Refusal policy.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, a DUI-alcohol crash occurs every 21-and-a-half minutes in Texas. That translated to 24,410 crashes last year, which resulted in 1,051 fatalities – 15 of those deaths were in Hidalgo County. And, 48-percent of the total DUI fatalities last year occurred over the Labor Day weekend.
Sheriff Guerra reported that in 2014, during the 78 hour time period of the Labor Day weekend, 38 fatal car crashed resulted in the death of 44 people. As the sheriff points out this time frame was one of the deadliest for drivers on the road.
"I can tell you first hand that I have see the deaths caused by d and d and these tragedies could have definitely be avoided," said Sherif Guerra. that is why a sense of urgency to get this message out to our community. A message that we - the law enforcement officers of hidalgo county - will stand united and enforcement the operation and crack down on drinking and driving."
Among the speakers in attedance was Dileny Olivarez, who lost her brother to a drunk driver on February 18, 2011. She spoke to the crowd as she displayed the picture of her brother, who was only 18 year old, when he was killed in a high speed head on collission the day before his wedding. The driver's blood alcohol level was 0.28, which is 4 times the legal limit.
"My brother Guillermo finished high school in three years and had just completed his paramedic training,he was ready to find a new job, get married and start a new life," said Olivarez. "He didn't live to see his dream come true."
She hopes all drivers will stay off the road if they are impaired and thanked the law enforcement officers for their assistance keeping the roads safe.
Rodriguez ended the press conference by thanking Sheriff Eddie Guerra, Constables Celestino Avila, Martin Cantu, Lazaro Gallardo and J.R. Gaitan; DPS Captain Arturo De La Garza; and the 20 Police Chiefs – representing every city in Hidalgo County:
• Arturo Espinosa, Alamo Police Department; • Enrique Sotelo, Alton Police Department; • Ruben De Leon, Donna Police Department; • Eloy Cardenas, Edcouch Police Department; • Peter De La Garza, Edinburg Police Department; • Primitivo Rodriguez, Elsa Police Department; • Rodolfo “Rudy” Espinoza, Hidalgo Police Department; • Ramon Gonzalez, La Joya Police Department; • Victor Garcia, La Villa Police Department; • Victor Rodriguez, McAllen Police Department; • Olga Maldonado, Mercedes Police Department; • Robert Dominguez, Mission Police Department; • Michael Vela, Palmhurst Police Department; • Christopher Barrera, Palmview Police Department; • Roel Bermea, Penitas Police Department; • Ruben Villescas, Pharr Police Department; • David Hernandez, Progresso Police Department; • Juan Gonzalez, San Juan Police Department; • Miguel Martinez, Sullivan City Police Department; • and Stephen S. Mayer, Weslaco Police Department.
View the press conference by clicking the video below: