AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin police say a safety initiative targeting drunk drivers on Sundays is reducing the number of drunk driving fatalities in the city.
Ten of the city's 46 fatalities in 2012 have happened between 6 p.m. on Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday morning and 70 percent of them involved drunk drivers.
On June 24, the police department put more officers on the streets during those hours and since the extra officers started patrolling, there have been zero drunk driving fatalities during those hours.
"We don't want to have one more fatality," said APD Commander Jason Dusterhoft. "We don't want this to be a surprise to anybody- we're going to have extra officers all throughout the city working DWIs on Sundays."
When police chief Art Acevedo announced the Summer Safety Initiative, the goal was to reduce fatalities during those dangerous hours by half.
"We've seen not the 50 percent reduction in fatalities that Chief Acevedo was hoping for, we have seen no fatalities during this time- I think that is just a testament to what a great job APD does," said MADD Executive Director Debra Johnson.
Johnson knows the devastation a drunk driver can cause. Her sister Gale, then 20, was hit by a drunk driver back in 1973.
"She was in college- she was a talented writer and an artist- she lost it- because somebody had too much to drink at a company Christmas party," said Johnson. "She was hit at 3 o'clock in the afternoon on December 23. Nobody deserves that."
Gale was severely brain damaged and died at age 41 from injuries sustained in the crash.
"I'd rather put somebody in jail and ruin their night than have to go and tell their family member or somebody else's family member that they just lost a loved one," said Dusterhoft.
The police department is putting more officers on the streets on Sunday nights- specifically looking for drunk drivers- and drunk pedestrians.
"We've already had 67 arrests," said Dusterhoft. "67 arrests just for DWI. We're not going to tolerate it anymore- we're not going to let you go out there and kill one of our citizens or kill yourself. We're done with it."
The initiative runs through Sunday, September 2nd.
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