Yesterday, a message on those information board things that are on the highways (the big electronic signs that usually give accident and traffic information) caught my attention.

For those of you that have ever been on the road on a Friday or Saturday night at around 2am, you are aware of the fact that there are a lot of people on the road who probably have had a little too much to drink. I always find this to be the case when traveling south on 59 around 610, where people are either swerving in between two lanes or going 100+mph. In any case, it appears that you can now dial *DWI on your mobile phone to report drunk driving.

What I’m wondering is – what happens after you call? Let’s say I report someone driving badly on 59 south…what are the police going to do? Get on 59 and look for that person? By the time an officer is dispatched the driver will probably have exited or be long gone..

Although I think that *DWI is a good idea, I wonder whether it will actually be useful in preventing drunk driving. Either way – it’s a step in the right direction.

9 Comments so far

  1. Ryan (unregistered) on June 24th, 2005 @ 1:42 am

    I saw that as well. I thought I would report my car and see how long it took them to come and find me. It would be a test to see how they found the person? Actually, they could track them using the TranStar Jam Cams, right?

  2. sputnik (unregistered) on June 24th, 2005 @ 8:36 am

    I’m guessing they would ticket you for wasting city resources on your test call. But it would be an interesting experiment.

    Having toured the TranStar facility and spent a little time in the camera monitor room, I would have to say they definitely couldn’t track reported drunken drivers that way. The cameras are normally at such a wide angle that license plate numbers can’t be read. They have the ability to zoom in, but to find a specific vehicle that way would require the camera monitors to first spot the vehicle as it speeds past a camera and simultaneously zoom in. It’s not really that feasible.

    As for *DWI, I’m not sure how effective it would be either. Maybe they’ll ask you to follow the driver for a bit? They could put out an APB or something. I think I’m going to make some calls and find out more about how it works. I need a topic for this week’s editorial column anyway.

  3. Governor (unregistered) on June 24th, 2005 @ 8:36 am

    I suppose if you could repeat the license plate number, then the police could find the owner and… ummm… I don’t know. Now that I think about it, maybe the police would use your call as evidence (third-party, non-biased, witness) to arrest drunken drivers after they

  4. HouDog (unregistered) on June 24th, 2005 @ 9:09 am

    The response time for a crime in action is much better than something like a fender bender. It is a matter of priority. It should be easy for them to call the closest unit (they have quite a few) with your directions (he/she is turning on Voss & Westheimer) and your description (1957 pink cadillac with license plate “TIPSY 7”) to intercede.

  5. Kymberlie R. McGuire (unregistered) on June 28th, 2005 @ 1:04 am

    I noticed this this weekend too. I’m guessing HouDog’s theory is probably how it plays out.

  6. Jay (unregistered) on June 29th, 2005 @ 12:25 pm

    The problem I see with this is when people start to abuse the system and call in the license plate of someone they are not happy with.

    It seems too easy for an innocent person to be pulled over for no reason, other than a random phone call.

  7. Fyre (unregistered) on July 4th, 2005 @ 3:57 pm

    I’ve called in a drunk driver before – although pre *DWI days. I purposefully followed the vehicle, and the police dispatcher kept me on the line until I crossed out of HPD and into Harris Co territory, then transferring me to an HC dispatcher. I then got back into HPD area, right as the HPD officers caught up with the idiot – who then refused to take a breathalyzer, resulting in an immediate suspension of his license. All in all this was around 15 – 20 minutes of total time from beginning of call until I was told I could leave where they pulled him over (I stopped way back so the guy could not see my license).

    Evidentally, he pled guilty, as I was never called for court on it.

  8. Jason (unregistered) on July 30th, 2005 @ 3:17 pm

    Pretty much the only way the police will find your drunk driver is if you stay behind them, follow them, and give the dispatcher contstant updates. If you just call in, and even give the license plate, then hang up it won’t do any good (unless by some miracle the officer getting the call is right there). By the time police get there, the drunk will be long gone (unless he crashed) and then, without an eyewitness, the officer has to see the drunk driving the car. Running the plate and tracking the car to its address won’t do any good if the officer doesn’t see anyone driving it.

  9. SK (unregistered) on August 30th, 2005 @ 9:34 am

    I reported a drunk driver before using 911 before this new number was available. I was asked the location and to describe the vehicle. They asked if I could SAFELY get the license plate number or even part of it. I gave the operator all the info. She asked if I minded providing my cell phone number and I gave it to her. She said they would dispatch someone and to stay clear of the vehicle. I did not have to stay on the phone. I too was curios if this call was going to make a difference and wanted to be available to provide updated location info if necessary, so I decided to follow the vehicle from a safe distance. Within 10 minutes of my call, the vehicle got surrounded by FOUR law enforcement vehicles and was pulled over (one was up ahead and must have stayed at a slower pace so the car would catch up and then the others all came up from behind and spread out to the sides and one stayed at the rear). I continued on and headed home. I do think it can make a difference. I was surprised at how well and how quickly it worked. The person driving the vehicle almost hit five cars just while I was on the phone with the operator and nearly slammed into the concrete wall three times. I had relayed all of this info. I definitely think it is worth the time to call and try to get these people off the road. I have seen people die near my home despite CPR and medical assistance from witnesses and paramedics when they crashed their vehicle while drunk and have been hit by a drunk driver myself before. Never drink and drive and never let your friends do it either. As for the test call…do not waste resources on that and indeed you can get in trouble for a false police report…remember the runaway bride??? Any ways…please stay off the road if you are too tired to drive as well…lots of accidents happen from people falling asleep at the wheel as well. Have a great day everyone and stay safe!

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