District Attorney, Sheriff, MADD: Warn Summer Drivers and Boaters to Remain Sober Behind the Wheel

By: Ruben Borjas, Jr., Columnist, Montgomery County News
| Published 05/29/2024


MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TX -- In a show of defiance against drivers and boaters who drink and operate machinery in Montgomery County, District Attorney Brett Ligon held his annual Summer Safety Press Conference last Wednesday, in an effort to combat the ‘100 Deadliest Days’ of summer, in regards to drinking and the physical safety of children out of school until the fall. Ligon was backed up by Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson, MC Constables, Police Departments, the Texas Department of Public Safety, First Responders, Hospital officials, and Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. The event was held at the Northshore Park just off Lake Woodlands Drive.

The presser kicked off Montgomery County’s summer efforts to combat intoxicated drivers and boaters from operating on the county’s highways, roads and lakes. On busy weekend holidays such as the Memorial Day weekend, Montgomery County law enforcement officials operate under a ‘No-Refusal’ program which provides scientific evidence to determine guilt or innocence in cases resulting from a DWI arrest. Since being developed in Harris County, ‘No Refusal’ has been adopted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as a model to properly obtain blood samples from impaired drivers.

District Attorney Brett Ligon referenced all the partners standing behind him standing in a united front for the prevention of needless death in Montgomery County during the upcoming summer.

“We are going to celebrate the success in the community,” said Ligon, speaking on his vision for the summer. “We are not going to lose anyone this year in regards to a road fatality or preventable child death this summer.”

Ligon’s message to the public is that his office is “Capable of doing our job,” when presented with well developed cases that Sheriff Rand Henderson’s deputies are more than able to deliver, with some of his deputies have dozens of DWI arrests every year, and several achieving hundreds of arrests in the last few years.

“We will put people in prison for decades,” said Ligon. “And if you or your loved ones are in a dire emergency, the professional men and women of the fire departments and EMTs, they will respond.”

Ligon went on to say that he’d rather see the police, fire, and medical personnel all celebrating the lives of those not lost to bad decisions on our roads or lakes. Montgomery County has lost the title of having the deadliest roads and lakes in Texas, which is a grand achievement given Montgomery County’s approximation to such a large regional population looking for entertainment. The DA urged parents to be mindful of their kids' safety behind the wheels of vehicles, as well as the avoidance of alcohol at all times.

Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson lauded District Attorney Ligon for his aggressive prosecutions of violent crime.

“We will find you, we will arrest you, and you will be prosecuted,” said Sheriff Henderson speaking about those suspected of DWI. “We will do our part to ensure those wanting to travel the roads in the county safely, are able to do so without the impediment of an intoxicated driver..”

Henderson also reminded adults of the dangers of leaving children and pets locked in cars during the heat of summer. He encouraged everyone to be conscious of those who can’t act on their own in vehicles during dangerous heat.

Assistant District Attorney, Chief - Vehicular Crimes Taylor Vanegas, implored parents and their teen drivers to pay special attention to their driving habits especially during the summer driving period when there is a significant uptick in young driver fatalities during the hundred deadliest days of the year.

“We ask the public to consider the consequences that come with impaired driving,” said Vanegas. “By choosing to drive safely and sober, you protect yourself and others.”

Vanegas urged all citizens to refrain from making decisions that can suddenly take someone’s life, and change yours forever.

Charisse Thomas spoke on behalf of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. Ms. Thomas lost her 18-year old daughter Destiny, to a drunk driver in February 2020. Young Destiny had received her acceptance letter to Southern University that same day. Thomas also relayed the story of her grandson in April 2022, when in downtown Houston, a distracted driver ran a red light t-boning her car, killing her grandson who was only 4 months old.

“I stand here today, because I am a Mother, sitting at a table, with an empty chair,” said Thomas. “We are not equipped to bury our kids, and we are definitely not equipped to bury our grandkids.”

Last year during the Memorial Day weekend, the District Attorney’s Office filed over 45 cases related to impaired driving or boating. Research has indicated that highway fatalities increase by over 15% during the summer driving period, with Montgomery County averaging 15 fatalities over the same period over the past five years.