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DWI arrests climbing in Harris County as holiday season begins

HOUSTON – With three weeks left in the year, the number of arrests related to driving while intoxicated charges in Harris County is on track to surpass the 15,000 mark. That is well past last year’s number of 14,133 arrests, according to officials in the vehicular crimes unit at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

How many DWI-related arrests have there been so far in 2019?

There are have been 14,588 DWI-related arrests in Harris County, so far this year. That’s an average of about 41 arrests per day, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

“The more law enforcement, the more people we’re arresting, but it also says that when we’re not out there in full force, how many other people are driving and not getting caught,” Gonzalez said.

What’s even more concerning, 402 of those offenders are underage. About 80% of them are between 19 and 20 years old.

Gonzalez said that while there’s been an increase in efforts to check identification at restaurants and convenience stores, he believes schools and parents need to be more involved in finding solutions to the problem.

“Sixty percent of minors get their alcohol from a parent or an adult," Gonzalez said. "We see examples, then they go to a party and they think it’s OK to drink. We’ve got to continue to bring that message out.”

What’s being done right now to solve the problem?

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is continuing its multi-pronged approach that includes a task force to specifically tackle the issue of driving while intoxicated.

Bryan Joseph, who lost his wife Shayla and firstborn infant son Braylan to an underage drunk driver, is also raising awareness to educate others. He has a YouTube channel in his name and a Facebook Page to educate people on social media about the dangers of drinking and driving.