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Kudos to Dallas police for expanding DUI unit

Just before Thanksgiving, we began hearing the familiar annual warnings from groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the American Automobile Association: Driving after having too much to drink at that holiday party or family get-together too often results in fatal accidents or life-changing injuries.

That important reminder has been reinforced in a meaningful way by Dallas Police Chief Eddie García with a recent announcement . The department is beefing up its driving under the influence unit, going from just one dedicated officer to seven, to “help us to even better enforce the law and keep impaired drivers off the road,” the chief told one of our newsroom colleagues.

Drunken drivers last year caused 1,077 deaths on Texas roadways, a 9% increase over 2020. The hope is that this expanded unit will help bring that number down in Dallas.

García’s announcement came just weeks after one Dallas officer was killed and another injured in separate incidents involving suspected drunken drivers. It also came on the same day that a Dallas officer was arrested by the Glenn Heights Police Department on a charge of driving while intoxicated.

This month, García underscored the seriousness of the offense when he fired an officer and a 911 call-taker who were arrested in April and May on suspicion of drunken driving.

In this day and age of ridesharing — sometimes referred to as designated drivers on demand — there’s absolutely no reason for anyone to drink and drive. A study published in June 2021 by the Journal of the American Medical Association found the number of motor vehicle crash traumas decreased by 38.9% thanks to rideshares.

That’s why we also tip our hat to the Dallas County DWI Task Force, which is offering free, $5 discount codes for Lyft rides. And we commend the task force for again displaying throughout the county smashed up cars involved in real drunken driving accidents, with signs on top bearing familiar quotes. “I can drive, I just had a few beers,” reads the sign on one. Another says in Spanish: “Manejo mejor cuando estoy borracho.” (“I drive better when I’m drunk.”)

So many do it. They have a beer or a cocktail or two, think they’re OK, then get in their cars to drive home. But too often, they’re not OK. And as we all enter the holidays, the chances are greater that this will happen.

We agree with the Texas Department of Transportation when it says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year. But one regrettable decision to drink and drive could bring a devastating end to the holiday celebrations.”

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