MIDLAND, Texas — Drink, drive, go to jail. It's a message we see and hear about all the time. It's also a point police try to drive home. Do not drink and drive.
In Midland, Police are encouraged by the numbers of DWIs. We had been on a downward trend in the number of DWI arrests from 2016 to 2020. However, those numbers appear to be trending back up.
Here's where the numbers are from 2016 to 2021:
2016 - 677 DWIs
2017 - 588 DWIs
2018 - 533 DWIs
2019 - 529 DWIs
2020 - 454 DWIs
2021 - 272 DWIs (as of the date of this article being published)
There was a significant drop from 2019 to 2020. That's when COVID-19 struck. It's something Midland Police say had a major impact.
"People just weren’t traveling around. Obviously driving while intoxicated offenses have to have a driving component to it so when you’re not driving as much, those offenses don’t happen as much either," MPD Deputy Chief Greg McCright said.
However, it's 2021 now. Bars are open and people are traveling more. As for the current 2021 DWI numbers? They appear to be trending back up.
"So 2019, we were around 500 or so DWIs. Last year was less than that. It was in the 400s, and then this year through the first five months, we were at 272. So you know last year was obviously an odd year with COVID," McCright said.
So how do officers open DWI cases? There are two methods.
"There’s two different ways we get to a DWI investigation. Either through a traffic enforcement issue or a crash investigation that leads to a DWI, but most of the investigations take place because of the traffic offense that is taking place," McCright said.
If you do happen to get pulled over for a DWI, you can expect jail time at the minimum and possibly more.
"You’re looking at a minimum of six months in jail is what the class B misdemeanors that we’re looking at. On top of that you also have your drivers license suspended, and there’s a whole process to get that back from the state. You know you’re gonna have legal issues to deal with not just going to jail but you know anything that comes as a result of that," McCright said.
From 2020 to the present there have been 7 DWI related fatalities. McCright recommends having plans to get home such as a taxi or having someone pick you up if you ending up going out drinking.