Harris County's after-hours task force: 1 year later

HOUSTON – The "after-hours task force" was created a year ago by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to go after businesses contributing to the number of drunken-driving crashes and fatal accident on our roads.

In addition to the vehicular crimes division of the DA’s Office, the Houston Police Department, the Harris County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission are part of the task force.

“We are the worst offender in the country at killing people on our roads,” said Sean Teare, chief of the DA’s Vehicular Crimes Division.

In the year since the task force was created, 59 criminal charges have been filed, four businesses lost permits to sell alcohol, one business cleaned up its problems and nine more businesses were cited for serving after hours, serving to minors and drugs.

VIDEO: After hours program touted on one year anniversary

“We're going after that small percentage that are putting profits over safety and putting deadly weapons on the roadway,” Teare said.

The first case investigated by the task force was the deaths of Shayla Joseph and her 3-month old son, Braylan. Both were killed during a crash on the Gulf Freeway in 2018. Veronica Rivas, 20, was charged with intoxication manslaughter. The task force also brought charges against three other people for providing Rivas with alcohol.

“We were able to go to that scene and put this plan into place for the first time,” Teare said. “We found out where she had been drinking, we found out who had served her alcohol and who had purchased that alcohol for her.”

Teare said the hope is that in another six months to a year, the crackdown by this task force will start being seen in the number of drunken-driving arrests decreasing.