AUSTIN, Texas - With impaired drivers contributing to more than a third of Austin’s fatal crashes according to APD, police are taking patrols to the next level.
Starting in October, a No Refusal Initiative will be in effect weekly Thursday through Sunday. APD will also increase enforcements during large, upcoming events like the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
A No Refusal Initiative is an enforcement strategy that allows APD to obtain a blood sample search warrant for any driver that refuses a breath or blood test.
"We want the public to be aware that our officers are still out there on the streets, and we take impaired driving seriously," said Det. Wut Tantaksinanukij. "We're a data-driven organization and we have to look at our resources, what we have available and deploy those resources efficiently."
Though APD’s DWI unit was recently disbanded, funding from the Austin Transportation Department will allow them to pay detectives overtime so they are available during these times.
ATD is also continuing to provide APD with TxDOT crash data to help officers know what days, locations and times are the most dangerous.
"We have one of the most robust crash data management systems in the nation," said Lewis Leff, ATD transportation safety officer.
According to Leff, ATD and TxDOT have been compiling and analyzing this data since 2019. On the engineering side, it has helped them zero in on which roads need safety improvements. It also helps them pinpoint trends related to drunk driving.
"We collect the data, we analyze it, and we look for trends," said Leff. "Feeding this (APD) partnership with this data is really critical to be able to understand where and when it could be most effective to have DWI units out there."
The department’s Vision Zero Viewer provides public data on crashes in Austin broken down by time of day, location and other factors. Click here to access.