It was about eleven o’clock one evening and I was driving home in my cute little light blue two door coupe with my sunroof open. I was in the passing lane and the first car stopped at a red light. There was a BMW beside me and an older pickup truck behind the BMW. It was a quiet Texas evening and not many cars were on the road. I can’t really recall what made me look up, but I did. There, in my rearview mirror, I see a pickup truck in the right lane and it was not stopping. The pickup just kept coming, and coming, until I see it careened the back of the stopped pickup using it as a launching pad and become airborne. With wide eyes and my foot on the brake I pull myself toward my steering wheel bracing myself instinctively for the impact. And then it hit. There were sounds I had never heard before married with smells I care to never recall, yet I can’t forget. I opened my eyes only to find my car in the middle of the intersection, sharp shards of glass and debris all around me, a redwood picnic table protruding through my sunroof speared into my car like a javelin and embedded between my center console and passenger seat, and propane tanks scattered in the intersection. Pinned in the driver seat, passersby ran toward me giving me commands I could not understand. Dazed, confused, numb and in pain simultaneously, I was in shock. “What happened?” I thought to myself.
Yes, it was a drunk driver who hit us. He totaled four cars, including his own. My roof was crushed except for one small section where my head was. He admitted to drinking several drinks before getting behind the wheel and driving in his older pickup truck. Sadly, this was his third DWI charge. Once the crash reconstruction was done it was determined the driver, once airborne, rear ended me and then the truck landed on top of my car finally rolling off and coming to rest beside me.
This was my first experience with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) as it’s also known. Since that day I have been passionate about drunk or impaired drivers. Little did I know back then that I would have the privilege to work with some of the best advocates and leaders in the field whose primary purpose is to decrease alcohol-related crashes, injuries, and deaths by promoting DWI deterrence and enforcing law enforcement officer’s proficiency in their training.
Texas is first in the nation but not in a good way when it comes to impaired driving crashes, property damage and fatalities. Sadly, we lead the nation virtually every year the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) release their statistics, however, we are doing everything we can to educate, train and be part of a solution in saving lives.
My friend and colleague, Program Coordinator Kimberly Garza, is coordinating the Texas Law Enforcement Impaired Driving Summit set to take place in June 2019 in Austin, Texas. She has given me permission to share the photo and a piece their team has written to highlight all the Who, What, When, Where of the Summit. So, without further ado . . .
The new year is an exciting time for TMPA and its grant programs. For FY 2019, TMPA received a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation to hold the “Texas Law Enforcement Impaired Driving Summit.” This conference concentrates on the training needs of Texas law enforcement officers who combat impaired driving offenses across the state. While such conferences occur on a national level, Texas has not had one that was focused on law enforcement impaired driving enforcement needs in several years. In this the inaugural year, we plan on bringing vibrant and interesting nationally recognized speakers in alcohol and drug enforcement to Austin to pass on information that our participants can take back to their jurisdictions to really make a difference in reducing impaired driving on our roadways. The summit starts Monday, June 24th at 1:00 PM and ends on Tuesday, June 25th, 2019 at 5 PM, and will be held at the Omni Austin Hotel South Park at 4140 Governor’s Row, Austin, TX 78744. The start and end times are tentative as the conference is still in the developmental stage. Registration for the conference itself is free and to help defray some of the costs, a limited block of paid hotel rooms will be available for those participants traveling from outside the Austin area. For those who either do not qualify for a room or if rooms are no longer available, the Omni will offer the same room deal as that offered to the summit, which includes free breakfast and other amenities. While the agenda for the conference is still being finalized, we have the following speakers already scheduled to appear:
· Keith Graves of Graves and Associates LLC, a DRE and expert in drug enforcement
· Dr. Karl Citek MS, OD, PhD, FAAO from Pacific University, a nationally recognized expert in alcohol and drug intoxication
· Clay Abbott, Texas DWI Resource Prosecutor for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association
· Sergeant Don Egdorf, Houston Police Department DWI/Traffic Safety Liaison Officer
To keep up with the summit agenda as it develops, like and follow us on the Texas Law Enforcement Impaired Driving Summit Facebook page, along with our Twitter and Instagram feeds. Instructions for how to pre-register and register will be there. Come join with other Texas law enforcement professionals who have a passion for impaired driving enforcement. In this first year, we are limited to approximately 200 attendees, so you will want to get your information in as soon as registration opens. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact:
The message in my story remains vigilant, unwavering, and unchanged. Please do not drink, drug or drive impaired. Plan a ride. Call a friend. Stay home. If you get behind the wheel impaired the consequences quite possibly will be for forever. Nothing is worth that.
If you or someone you know has been impacted by an impaired driver I welcome you to share your story in the comment section below.
God bless each of you who read this and, as always, have a plan and please stay safe!
Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved
Missy Williams; OneStoneAway.com
Used with permission – Copy and Image credit: K. Garza with the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA)