Last weekend, like every weekend, was a mandatory blood draw weekend in Houston, meaning that police could obtain a warrant to forcibly take your blood if they suspected you had been driving under the influence. This usually sparks a dramatic increase in DWI-related arrests over the Thanksgiving holidays, because people are traveling so much throughout the weekend. However, this year has been a little different.
Every year after the Thanksgiving holidays, we usually hear about all of the DWI arrests made because of the controversial mandatory blood draw weekend. Why was this year different? There are many plausible answers to this question. First, the huge 140 car pile-up on Thanksgiving morning could have scared people enough to be extra cautious. Perhaps the publicity surrounding the pile-up, along with all of the advice news reporters gave about road safety and the mandatory blood draw weekend combined to do the trick. One thing’s for sure though, there were definitely no notable mentions of numerous DWI arrests last weekend.
The lower than expected number of DWI arrests Thanksgiving were not due to a lack of law enforcement effort or presence. Throughout Houston numerous DWI Task Force officers were on patrol. These Houston Police Department task force officers, along with the other departments in Harris County, form a formidable obstacle for any drivers out on the road.
An interesting statistic would be a report of how many drivers were forced to submit to a blood test, then later learn they were below the limit. Although we cannot simply trust the crime lab’s opinion of how much alcohol is in a person’s blood. There are many people and steps involved when analyzing a blood sample. The best way to fight a DWI is with a lawyer that is trained in gas chromatography. Drunk driving articles are usually released by the DA’s office and typically focus on topics about the volume of arrests. It would be nice to see how many innocent people were arrested because officers assumed they were intoxicated, forced to submit to a blood draw, and later find they really just ate too much turkey.
Signs that law enforcement look for when pulling over drivers for suspicion of drunk driving are swerving, erratic speed, or failure to use turning signals. An overwhelming indication to law enforcement that someone is under the influence is blood shot or watery eyes. However, anyone driving a long distance over Thanksgiving weekend or wearing contact lenses is going to have blood shot or watery eyes. The number of drivers with blood shot eyes increases exponentially when you take into consideration that 50% of Texans travel over the Thanksgiving holidays.
The absence of DWI arrest headlines this Thanksgiving holiday was refreshing, yet eerily unexpected. Let’s just hope that there are not exponentially higher than normal arrests the rest of the holiday season to make up for it.