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Drunk Drivers Also Put Police & First Responders At Risk

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It appears a prominent push to keep drunk drivers off the roads, as the New Year rang in, may be paying off.

While the final numbers aren’t in, some North Texas departments are saying that their police officers didn’t see a big increase in intoxicated drivers on Monday night or Tuesday morning.

Throughout the holiday season, local police have stepped up impaired driving enforcement. But authorities say while ‘protecting an serving’ they are vulnerable to the same dangers as motorists.

“You’re just bewildered, takes you two or three seconds to realize exactly what happened to you, and then you’ve got to go chase the guy down because he realizes, ‘I just messed up and hit a cop car’ and he takes off,” recalled Commander Doug Mitchell, with the Carrollton Police Department, who has firsthand experience with having a police cruiser hit by a drunk driver.

While the number of drunk driving offenders is expected to be down for New Year’s Eve 2011 not everyone took the warning seriously. One incident involving impaired drivers put everyone in the area at risk – including police and first responders.

A Dallas firefighter is recovering after a chain reaction crash on Central Expressway overnight that all started, police say, with a driver who’d been drinking.

John Bryson, 32, of Dallas was arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated after crashing into the back of a parked patrol car. Then, as a Dallas Fire Rescue ladder truck blocked that accident scene, a Ford pickup rear-ended the fire engine, sending a firefighter to the hospital, along with the driver.

Mitchell said cases involving drunk drivers and emergency vehicles are rare. “The normal case is where some poor innocent person is minding their own business, going down the roadway and this person has had too much.”

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), during last year’s holiday season (Dec. 1, 2011, through Jan. 1, 2012) there were 2,462 alcohol-related traffic accidents in Texas, resulting in 842 serious injuries and 78 fatalities.

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