In 2009, statistics from the Austin Police Department showed that 85% of the collisions that occurred between midnight and 2:59 a.m. involved drivers who were under the influence of alcohol. During that same time period over half of the fatal collisions involved drivers who were under the influence of alcohol. The Austin Police Department is committed to arresting and prosecuting those who choose to drink and drive.
To increase enforcement of DWI laws and send a message to motorists who drink and drive, APD launched the DWI Enforcement Team in August of 1998. The unit, which is under the direction of the Highway Enforcement Command, is normally comprised of about 20 patrol officers spread over two or three teams that are able to provide 7 days a week coverage, 365 days a year. As a dedicated DWI enforcement unit, the DWI Enforcement Team is able to concentrate its patrol efforts on apprehending drunk drivers.
The Austin Police Department started a new initiative on Halloween 2008 called No Refusal Weekend. This initiative is designed to be a high profile reminder to all drivers that the odds of getting arrested and successfully prosecuted when driving while intoxicated go up drastically on No Refusal Weekends. During this initiative, when a suspected drunk driver refuses to submit to giving a sample of their breath or blood, a search warrant is written and presented to a judge asking for a sample of the suspect’s blood. No Refusal Weekends occur all throughout the year on various weekends.
As of June 2021, due to staffing shortages the DWI Enforcement Unit was temporarily suspended as a full time unit and the officers were placed back on patrol as part of an Auxiliary DWI / DRE team. Now, each DWI Liaison officer is a certified Drug Recognition Expert and are the de facto DWI experts within the Department. They are asked to respond from their patrol assignments to perform DRE evaluations on suspected drugged drivers and in all high-profile DWI investigations. In order to maintain this DRE /DWI Auxiliary program, the Impaired Driving Investigations Unit was formed – which consists of two full time detectives and one sergeant.