TxDot warning drivers, “No Refusal” over Fourth of July holiday


The Texas Department of Transportation is cracking-down on drunk-driving over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.  In 2012 alone, there were over 25,000 alcohol-related wrecks on Texas roadways. Those wrecks left 1,170 dead and 9,458 seriously injured. With these startling statistics in mind, TxDot is launching its “Faces of Drunk Driving” campaign.

The campaign is an effort to put a human face on the impact of drunk-driving. This year’s campaign will highlight nine-year-old Xitclalli “Chilli” Vasquez, who was paralyzed from the waist down after being hit by a drunk driver in Ft. Worth on July 9, 2011- just three days before her eighth birthday. Her story, along with those of over a dozen others impacted by drunk-driving, can be found on the “Faces of Drunk Driving” website. 

In addition to this campaign, TxDot wants motorists to know that law enforcement across Texas will conduct a “No Refusal” initiative over the Independence Day weekend. “No Refusal” legally requires suspected drunk drivers who have been pulled over to provide police with a breath or blood sample. Drivers who refuse to provide a breath sample will be taken to jail where they will be forced to provide a blood sample. Motorists found to be legally intoxicated will face a DWI charge. DWI penalties continue to get tougher. Penalties now include immediate arrest, a suspended license, jail time, and a fine that has increased to $17,000. They are really not kidding when they say you can’t afford it. 

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) provides tips on how to prevent drinking and driving:

Choose a designated driver- decide who’s going to be doing the driving before you go out, Hide the keys- don’t be afraid to take someone’s keys who you know should not be driving, Arrange alternate transportation- sometimes even the designated driver slips, set up a ride with a sober driver.

For those hosting a party this fourth of July, be aware that the host is responsible if an intoxicated party-goer leaves and causes a wreck. The host will face criminal charges and could possibly be forced to pay medical bills and legal fees for all involved in the wreck.

In addition to the above article shared by KLTV, Channel 7, in Tyler, Texas, others are concerned about your safety, too, during this holiday weekend.  “Lately it seems people care more about material things and their ability to social network than they do about their own health,” said Thomas Esposito, MD, MPH, chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center. “Staging an awesome pyrotechnical display for your friends on YouTube may result in blowing off your thumb, ending for good your ability to communicate using a handheld device.”  Their Fourth of July warning theme is “No Texting for Your Life!”

The fourth of July traditionally is the biggest day for grilling food across America.  America’s firefighters want you to think about fire safety while you enjoy the holiday.  Firefighters urge folks grilling  to keep an eye on their grill at all times, and not to walk off and forget the fire.  Keep the kids and pets away from the fire.  Unattended cooking is the number one cause of house fires, and that includes outdoor grilling. Firefighters say use common sense to prevent a tragedy. 

Cook outdoors, not under an awning or carport.  Leave the grills alone to cool off for a long time.  Charcoal grills that turn over can spark house fires hours after the food is done. Firefighters say never try to throw away hot coals, and keep a barrier around the grill to prevent children from running into it. 

Hospital emergency rooms will be on stand-by, in adddition to medical response teams, fire departments, and law enforcement, who will be staffing extra personnel in order to accommodate those who are involved in any accident.  Please heed all warnings and have a safe, sober, and Happy Fourth of July!