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'You will be put in jail' | City officials, victim advocates push to decrease alarming trend of drunk driving in Southeast Texas

A DWI stays on a person's record for life, but as Casie Harris with Mother's Against Drunk Driving points out, that doesn't compare to losing a loved one for life.

BEAUMONT, Texas — There’s a new push to fight drunk driving in Southeast Texas after the fallout of these crimes has been seen a lot in the region in recent weeks. 

Just last month, a jury convicted and sentenced Officer Sheena Yarbrough-Powell’s killer and Jefferson County Deputy Jim Lee was hit and killed while mowing his grass, by an alleged drunk driver.  

RELATED: Port Arthur man sentenced to 20 years in connection with 2020 death of Beaumont police officer

RELATED: Driver charged with intox manslaughter in death of Jefferson County deputy hit, killed while mowing lawn

In June, a crash injured a Lumberton Police officer and his K9.

RELATED: Man charged with DWI after striking Lumberton Police officer, K9 in patrol car

Despite all the warnings, drunk driving continues to be an issue on Texas roads.

Texas Department of Public Safety data shows that DWI arrests in Jefferson county have gone up the last two years in Jefferson, Orange and Hardin county.

"We have gone almost 22 years without a death free day on Texas roadways, every single day for the last 21 years almost 22 years someone has died on Texas roadways," said Sarah Dupre with the Texas Department of Transportation. 

And drinking and driving doesn't help this tragic streak. 

Casie Harris is a victim advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, also known as MADD. 

"These are people who have lost their lives due to drunk driving," she said, while pointing at pictures of victims. 

As of recently, the non-profit has been getting more calls.

“I hope the increase is because people know what we're doing and see the value in our organization, but I'm worried the increase is just an increase," Harris said. 

This summer brought multiple deaths as a result of drunk driving, one as recent as a week ago in Port Arthur.

RELATED: Man charged with intoxication manslaughter after Friday night wreck claims life of City of Port Arthur employee

RELATED: 71-year-old woman charged for driving while intoxicated after Friday night wreck leaves two Port Arthur Police officers injured

In the last decade, Jefferson County had 2,297 crashes related to drugs or alcohol, including nearly one and a half thousand injuries and more than 100 deaths.

Despite the grave warnings, people still do it.

"You will be pulled over, and you will be put in jail,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham.

Wortham points out that the total number of total DWI's actually dropped in the past decade.

"We very aggressively prosecute them, we hold everybody's feet to the fire, and I think because of that, we have fewer cases," he said. 

A DWI stays on a person's record for life, but as Harris with MADD points out, that doesn't compare to losing a loved one for life.

Harris lost her brother 11 years ago.

"You don't get over it, you just learn how to live with how your life is now, and live with that emptiness that you feel inside," she said. 

She says the next time you consider drinking and driving, don't think about yourself and the fear of getting caught, but think about the innocent faces that can be lost over one decision.

Mother's against drunk driving works to educate, advocate, and work with legislators, victims, and law enforcement to prevent drunk driving.

To learn more, donate or get involved, visit MADD's website

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