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Keep up pressure on drunken drivers

Area law enforcement agencies beefed up patrols during the holiday season to curb alcohol-related accidents and injuries in the Denton area, and we encourage them to keep up the good work.

At least 171 alcohol-related arrests were made during the holidays.

We appreciate the agencies’ efforts and commend all officers, deputies and state troopers who were involved.

Thanks to their hard work and dedication, our roads were safer this holiday season.

The Texas Highway Patrol reported seven arrests in Denton County linked to driving while intoxicated and public intoxication during the effort. Spokesman Lonny Haschel said the number of arrests was about average.

“I would love to say we had zero — that means people are paying attention to what we are saying,” Haschel said. “Drinking and driving is dangerous.”

The Denton Police Department made three alcohol-related arrests on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and seven arrests on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, according to Officer Ryan Grelle, Denton police spokesman.

The Carrollton Police Department had the most extensive force out during the holidays and made 134 arrests between Nov. 16 and Jan. 4. Two of those arrested were allegedly driving while intoxicated with a child passenger, a state jail felony, officials said.

Assistant Carrollton Police Chief Mark Dant said the figures show that driving while intoxicated continues to be an ongoing problem.

In Lewisville, officers made 18 arrests related to driving while intoxicated and five arrests on public intoxication charges from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day. Lewisville police Capt. Jay Powell said the numbers are typical, but the department did see an increase on New Year’s Eve compared to last year.

“Over the last few years, we had seen a decrease in DWI arrests on New Year's Eve,” Powell said in an e-mail. “It seemed as though many were heeding the warnings about increased enforcement and were, therefore, utilizing designated drivers.”

We’d like to believe that public education efforts are paying off, that more drivers are playing it smart by staying off the roads after consuming alcohol, but we have to agree with Assistant Chief Dant — the numbers reported in the holiday crackdown show that driving while intoxicated continues to be a problem.

And unlike the party decorations and holiday tinsel, this dangerous risk doesn’t fade from sight just because of a change in season. It’s an ongoing issue.

Denton County’s booming population is putting more and more vehicles on area roadways and, unfortunately, some motorists don’t act responsibly. They refuse to hand over their keys after they’ve had a drink and continually ignore pleas to call a cab or a friend for a safe ride home.

We support programs to educate drivers and encourage area business owners and others in the community to continue their efforts to stop impaired drivers from climbing behind the wheel. The best way to stop drunk driving is to keep drunks from driving.

But we doubt that such campaigns are enough to solve the problem and believe that the sight of flashing lights in a rear-view mirror is a more effective solution.

We encourage our area law enforcement agencies to take their holiday crackdown a step further and keep the pressure on.