HARRIS COUNTY – Harris County Precinct 4 used the unfortunate experiences of two of its own deputies to highlight the need for extra drunk driving patrols through the rest of the holiday season.
On Nov. 7, a deputy constable patrol car was rear-ended at a red light at FM 1960 and Rayford by a suspected drunk driver, according to constable’s office. The deputy suffered injuries severe enough to require a trip to the hospital.
The driver, Frank Duron Ruiz, fled the scene but was captured and jailed for what would turn out to be his third drunk-driving arrest in Harris County, the constable said.
And while that accident was being investigated a second drunk-driving suspect plowed into another deputy constable’s patrol car, deputies said. That broad-side impact of that crash was captured on the deputy’s patrol car dash camera.
The suspected drunk driver, Jeffery Steven Withrow, was not injured, deputies said. However, tests showed he was under the influence, too.
Withrow was also arrested and jailed for his third drunk-driving arrest, deputies said. More than a month later, Withrow is still in the Harris County Jail.
With those wrecks, and those drunk-driving suspects as their examples, Precinct 4 announced an increased DWI enforcement emphasis through New Year’s Day, traditionally one of the worst drunk driving days of each year.
“And now we are going to be putting more boots on the ground. And if you choose to drink and drive in Harris County you choose to go to jail,” Precinct 4 Assistant Chief Mark Herman said.
The Precinct 4 DWI enforcement will begin Saturday and last through New Year’s Day focusing on the search for drunk drivers.
Harris County has a no-refusal policy for drunk-driving arrests. If a driver refuses to submit to a breathalyzer test, an officer or deputy can receive an immediate warrant to have medical personnel take a blood sample from the driver.
Staff from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, medical personnel and a judge will be stationed at the Pct. 4 Cypresswood Annex through the holiday to expedite the processing of suspected drunk drivers.
“We have a number of families that don’t get to celebrate the holiday season anymore, because they associate the holidays with a death,” said Assistant District Attorney Alison Baimbridge. “And that’s not the way we want our community to remember the holiday season.”
Prosecutors and deputies urge drivers to plan ahead during the rest of the holiday season and arrange for a designated driver if alcohol is part of your New Year celebrations.