Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Police step up enforcement during holidays

Officers throughout Central Texas will be targeting drunken, aggressive and erratic drivers through Jan. 1.

Law enforcement agencies in Central Texas will be targeting people who drive erratically or under the influence of alcohol from now until Jan. 1 in an effort to curb traffic accidents during the holiday season, police said Tuesday.

The Austin Police Department highway enforcement command, along with the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Travis County sheriff's office and others, will increase the number of officers on patrol throughout the region through Operation Holiday Lights.

Operation Holiday Lights targets drunken and reckless drivers.

Watch that driving, folks: The roads will be filled with law officers ready to slow you down.

They'll be using a mobile breath-test unit, background, in their efforts. Austin Police Chief Stan Knee, right, and officials from many other area agencies unveiled the operation Tuesday at Blue Santa headquarters on East 51st Street.

The usual 9-mph cushion that officers allow for drivers to go over the speed limit will be reduced to 4, Police Chief Stan Knee said.

The enforcement comes after Austin saw eight traffic fatalities in 2004 between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Cmdr. David Carter of the highway enforcement command said.

There have been more than 80 traffic fatalities in Travis County this year. Of those, nearly 60 were in Austin. Forty-eight percent of those involved drugs or alcohol, and a third involved speeding, Knee said.

He said that this holiday season, aggressive and distracted drivers will be cited along with drunken drivers.

Along with citations, officers will pass out ribbons and fliers from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to those who are stopped.

Click here for the full story as reported by the Austin American Statesman