This Weekend's DWI Crackdowns Will Include Boaters, Baby

Tired of all those pain-in-the-ass DWI crackdowns? Thinking you can get around them and still indulge your urge to endanger yourself and others by operating heavy, moving machinery while drunk by tossing back some Jack Daniel's on your boat?

Think again. This Memorial Day weekend, the DWI crackdown will be on the water.

The Montgomery County DAs office will announce tomorrow a drunk-boating crackdown it says is the first of its kind in the nation. Fourteen boats will be patrolling Lake Conroe, assistant DA Warren DiePraam tells Hair Balls; more importantly, two mobile blood-alcohol testing labs, complete with nurses and judges ready to OK warrants, will be onsite for boaters who refuse the Breathalyzer.

"There's been a large BWI problem on Lake Conroe for years, and the new district attorney, Brett Ligon, hired me away from Harris County in part to handle it," says DiePraam, who worked for years as an assistant prosecutor here.

Harris County is also getting in the act, with its own crackdown on Lake Houston. It will be 24/7 over the long weekend, not just at night like previous DWI crackdowns..

"The message on this Memorial Day weekend is that it is not worth it for you to risk a DWI -- if you are drinking, it doesn't matter if you are driving at midnight or boating at noon," said Brent Mayr, head of the DA's vehicular-crimes unit. "We'll be ready for you."

Peace officers from any jurisdiction, by the way, do not need any probable cause to board and search a boat -- and sniff for beer on the breath.

Both counties will also be using the so-called "BATmobile" labs to process car drivers. Montgomery County will focus on Highway 105, which DiePraam says has been the scene of several DWI fatalities each year.

Unlike previous crackdowns, Harris County is not releasing the locations of where the BATmobiles will be placed to catch car drivers, spokesman George Flynn told Hair Balls.

"It was felt that was giving too much information to people," he says.

Lat Memorial Day, the Harris County crackdown resulted in DWI charges against 164 drivers, 48 of whom were repeat offenders.

Boaters, you've been warned.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly