With Halloween around the corner, San Marcos Police officers are cracking down on drunk drivers in an attempt to keep the city safe through the holiday.
Eighty-three alcohol-related arrests were made on campus last year, said Sue Taylor, university police officer. Five of those arrests were for DWIs.
Taylor said she sees a lot of accidents on campus. The street side of McCoy has been hit and damaged multiple times. Intoxicated drivers have a lot of accidents on Sessom Dr., often taking out the guardrails.
Tyler Knight, computer information systems sophomore, was parked in front of his cottage when a drunk driver attempted to turn around and slammed into the tail end of his Nissan Altima, totaling the vehicle.
“There were a lot of memories in that car,” Knight said. “But, hey, I get to use my mom’s soccer-mom car now.”
The driver knocked Knight’s car into the vehicle next to it before hitting two stop signs and a light pole. The drunk driver then ran another vehicle off the road, sending that car into a stop sign, Knight said.
“It’s hard to be mad about your car when there is someone injured,” Knight said.
Knight was surprised his car was hit early on a Wednesday morning.
“I didn’t expect it,” Knight said. “Not on a weeknight.”
Though Knight is trying to have a good attitude about the situation, he is still angry because the driver managed to get away.
“I want people to know that it’s not just lives at risk,” he said. “Just because you didn’t kill someone, doesn’t mean it’s okay. People’s economic statuses are at risk, too.”
The damage to Knight’s car cost $14,000. Martin Manzi, former night commander of the San Marcos police department, said damage to light poles and stops signs often come out of the city’s budget if the driver cannot be located.
Between Sept. 11 and the morning of Sept. 18, 13 hit-and-runs were reported, according to the police blotter.
Manzi said there were four arrests for DWIs, five for public intoxication, one for a minor consuming alcohol and four for alcohol violations throughout that week.
Officers arrested 39 people for DWIs and DUIs between September 2014 and September 2015, Manzi said.
Manzi said there seems to be an increased number of drunk drivers around the beginning of each semester. One piece of advice he gives students is to know their limits.
“Kids want to show off and outdo each other,” Manzi said. “One-upping each other isn’t worth it. Especially if you decide to drive.”
Manzi said it takes very little alcohol to hit the legal limit of 0.08 blood alcohol content. People who choose to drive after they do so risk their careers.
An officer fills out a report any time a student is caught driving while intoxicated. The report goes to the office of student justice, where the case is investigated to determine if the student code of conduct was violated.
If someone is arrested for a DWI, he or she faces 72 hours in jail minimum, Manzi said. If the student has an open container of alcohol, the minimum becomes six days.
Taylor said a student who is caught drinking and driving goes through a regular court process. He or she is offered a Breathalyzer, and upon refusal will be detained overnight. A judge will see the student the following morning.
Manzi said the driver’s license will be suspended in the case of most DWIs.
“It’s very hard to become a police officer or a firefighter after that,” he said. “It’s hard to drive a company vehicle. Really, a DWI damages your career opportunities.”