As residents prepare to celebrate the Memorial Day Weekend, the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s (H-GAC)’s Regional DWI Task Force prepares for additional police units to patrol for DWI offenders over the weekend.

H-GAC, through the assistance of 12 regional law enforcement agencies, is conducting Regional DWI Task Force operations throughout the Memorial Day weekend to lower driving while intoxicated offenses. The task force, which is funded through a Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) grant awarded by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), provides funding for agencies to provide enhanced DWI enforcement during holiday weekends when there has traditionally been more alcohol-related traffic incidents.  Since its inception in 2013, the task force has made more than 900 DWI arrests.

“DWI is one of the leading causes for vehicle crashes in the Houston region,” Eulois Cleckley, Deputy Director for the H-GAC’s Metropolitan Planning Organization said.

According to TxDOT, approximately 1,250 people died regionally in alcohol-related crashes over the last five years with over 5,400 people experiencing serious injuries.

“Through H-GAC’s Regional DWI Taskforce, we are committed to providing resources to assist law enforcement agencies across the region to reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes that led to injury or death,” Cleckley added.

Convicted first-time DWI offenders can pay a fine up to $2,000, serve six months in jail, lose their driver’s license for up to a year, and pay an additional $3,000 to retain their license once they get it back. Safety officials say other costs associated with an impaired driving arrest and conviction can add up to more than $17,000 for bail, legal fees, court appearances, court-ordered classes, vehicle insurance increases, and other expenses.