'No Refusal' program in effect Labor Day weekend

HOUSTON -- Labor Day No Refusal weekend begins at 10 p.m. and runs until Monday morning in Harris County. Among those joining the anti-drunk driving campaign is a family who lost four loved ones to a drunk driver.

It was a Sunday night, June 22, 2014. The Patels along with two relatives and a friend were returning from their Hindu temple, in West Houston, when they were broadsided by alleged drunk driver, Million Zeghergis.

"The whole night we were calling hospitals, police stations trying to locate them," said Depali Patel.

By daybreak, relatives learned the worst. Four loved ones, including Kokila and Devendra Patel had died.

Their daughter Depali went on to say, "It will never be the same. Our parents were the light in our lives."

Relative Paresh Patel added, "They had no chance to say their goodbyes."

Now the Patel family is taking this chance to help alert motorists about the Labor Day No Refusal weekend. It will mean prosecutors, judges and health care workers all in one place for blood draws on DWI suspects.

"That means that officers get back on street more quickly so they can continue to the hunt for people who could kill the rest of us while we're minding our own business," said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson.

Last Labor Day weekend, authorities made 205 DWI arrests, more than double the number on a typical weekend.

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia added, "We got handcuffs to spare if you don't get the message."

For many officers, this fight is personal. Precinct 1 Deputy Constable Lofton Harrison held up a photo saying, "This picture is a photograph of a family member of ours."

In January, Precinct 1 Deputy Constable Jeffrey Wooten was hit by drunk driver, Joseph Fiedor, who was just sentenced to 20 years. As for Wooten, Lofton said, "He is still struggling, fighting for his life lying in a bed unable to move."


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