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Area patrols to increase during holiday

Profile image for By Megan Gray / Staff Writer
By Megan Gray / Staff Writer

Area law-enforcement patrols are ever increasing on the roadways due to the upcoming Independence Day holiday.

Recent reports from the Texas Department of Transportation said Independence Day traditionally ranks among the deadliest holiday periods on Texas highways as a result of alcohol-related crashes.

Lonny Haschel, spokesman for the Texas Highway Patrol, said drivers can already expect to see an increased presence on the highways in Denton County.

“The goal is always to reduce injuries and fatalities on our highways,” Haschel said.

During last year’s Independence Day enforcement effort, troopers made 1,294 driving-while-intoxicated arrests, according to a news release from the Texas Department of Public Safety. A total of 361 of those arrests were the direct result of increased patrols.

Haschel said drivers can expect to see troopers anywhere they might be traveling — from area lakes to across the state.

Since the holiday falls on a Thursday, many countywide agencies will be increasing patrols now through July 7, officials said.

Officer Ryan Grelle, spokesman for Denton police, said the department will have extra patrols across the city searching for intoxicated drivers.

Grelle said that from Thursday through July 7, the city will actively enforce a “no-refusal” policy. Judges will be on call around the clock to sign warrants for officers to obtain a blood sample at a nearby hospital if they suspect someone is driving under the influence and the person refuses a test.

In Carrollton, police will be deploying units to detect any impaired driver attempting to operate a vehicle within the city limits, said Nicole Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the department.

In February, Carrollton police became the first Denton County agency to initiate a mandatory year-round “no-refusal blood draw” policy. The blood specimens are collected either by consent or warrant on all DWI arrests by trained phlebotomists at the jail.

Since its inception, 200 blood draws have been conducted, Rodriguez said.

With the Independence Day celebrations comes increased firework-related traffic.

Lewisville police Capt. Jay Powell said this is something the department’s extra patrols will be focused on.

With two fireworks shows on the same night in town, Powell said on- and off-duty officers will be staged at each show to make sure things run smoothly.

Most patrols, he said, will be focused near Vista Ridge Mall and other nearby shopping centers.

“In the hours leading up to the fireworks show, people begin to congregate in those areas,” he said.

By having officers strategically placed among the crowds, he hopes officers will be able to clear the area as quickly as possible after the show.

Most importantly, agencies want to remind everyone to not drink and drive, Rodriguez said.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.