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Calls From Concerned Citizens A Help In Combating Drunk Driving

Calls from passing motorists can help Texas police locate drunk drivers and get them off the road.

Many of the calls emergency dispatchers receive must be transferred to other jurisdictions and the 911 callers may not be present to see the driver they suspected of driving while inebriated, but both Texas dispatchers and police have stated that passing motorists are a great help. The director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Jeff Miracle, says that he speaks to someone approximately once a month who feels they called 911 to report a potentially drunk driver, only to have to eventually give up when an officer did not arrive in time to make a stop. But, says Miracle, he knows the police are trying to catch as many drunk drivers as possible.

The police have stated that the 911 calls from a concerned citizen often must be transferred from one jurisdiction to another as the driver crosses county lines and other police departments must become involved. A typical department may have as few as half a dozen officers in the DWI unit, and those officers cannot be throughout the city. A citizen call to 911 can be the crucial connection which allows a DWI officer to respond to suspected drunk driving in an area through which pass thousands and even tens of thousands of cars.

When someone calls 911 to report a suspected inebriated driver, dispatch operators are trained to ask specific questions, including the cross street, direction heading, a description of the vehicle, the color, the license plate, and what direction in which they are heading. While an individual can follow the driver if they feel safe doing so, the decision to do so is voluntary.

Of the approximately 182,000 911 emergency calls the city of Irving received last year, it is estimated that close to 2,400 of those calls were for suspected drunk driving. In 2011, there were more than 2,500 DUI-related car accidents in Texas, which resulted in more than 3,000 deaths.

In Texas, it is a crime to drive with a blood alcohol content concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more. More restrictive laws apply for commercial drivers. Commercial vehicle operators must not have a BAC of 0.04% or more. Minors (individuals under age 21) commit an offense if driving with a BAC of 0.01% or more.