POSTED: Monday, January 2, 2012 - 7:16pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 5:37pm
The new year celebrations along with Sunbowl festivities all stayed relatively safe this year.
There were 19 DWI arrests over the weekend in the city and no fatalities. El Paso Police were out in force and arrested most of those DWI suspects before midnight. Their first suspect of 2012 was arrested less than one hour into the New Year.
They cracked down on DWI related traffic offenses by starting the holiday weekend with a "no refusal mandatory blood draw operation." This meant that starting at midnight on New Years Eve until 10pm that night, police could provide a warrant from a judge to draw blood if the driver, when pulled over, refused a breathelizer. The recent fatal accident last week and the police force presence might have influenced people to be extra careful this holiday.
An owner of a local bar said he noticed the difference this year compared to last year. "I think a lot of it was the great job the El Paso Police department did in promoting the you know don't drink and drive. With the other you know the couple of traffic accidents that happened about a week ago you know people are a lot more aware,” said Ted Aikman, owner of King's X.
Brenda Rivera said this year she went to a house party instead of a night on the town. She noticed a lot of people decided to do the same. She says people seem more responsible."I think people are becoming aware of the dangers of drinking and driving and they probably had more fun being at home parties. Our family stayed closer to home you know so we were just down the street from where we lived. When we're out, we're responsible..i can only hope that everyone else tries to be."
According to El Paso Police, this year, the results of their task force effort prove that people were being more responsible.
Ted Aikman knows he has to make sure to send people home with a driver or a cab when they have had too much to drink. "Hire a cab and say you know take em home ..i'll pay for the cab myself."
El Paso Police say they will continue their enforcement efforts throughout 2012.