Saturday, March 04, 2006

Brackenridge physician wants more done about DWIs in Austin

Hoping to jolt police, city officials and residents to action, the chief of emergency medicine at Brackenridge Hospital sent a letter requesting more to be done about DWIs in Austin, TX.

And, it is not all alcohol related. Dr. Pat Crocker said, is that two-thirds tested positive for drugs ranging from tranquilizers and painkillers to illegal narcotics. Folks should remember that DWI is defined as the loss of normal use of mental and/or physical faculties due to alcohol, drugs or a combination of them.
He got responses back saying they have worked on the problem and intend to do more. They invited him to help.
Austin Police Department data show that DWI arrests are up 28 percent between 2000 and 2005, a period when the city's population increased 6 percent, according to Texas State Data Center estimates. In 2005, police reported 5,724 DWI arrests, more than police made in any of Texas' five other largest cities.
In fact, figures provided by individual police departments show that Austin police made significantly more DWI arrests per capita last year than Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth and El Paso.
Crocker said he was pleased to hear about the Austin DWI arrests but thinks that enforcement is still an issue.

Assistant City Manager Rudy Garza said Austin police increased road patrols in 2004 from 40 to 72 officers, and Police Chief Stan Knee said his department doubled the number of DWI enforcement officers to 20.
In addition, Capital Metro now runs buses from college neighborhoods to the Sixth Street entertainment district so students can come and go cheaply without risking a DWI, Knee said.
"This community needs to take seriously driving while impaired," Knee said. "We will make 6,000 DWI arrests in 2006."