El Paso Starts Training Program to Fight Texas DWI

The El Paso police department is developing a training program to certify its officers in the use of breath test equipment. The goalsare to help combat drunk driving in Texas and save tax money.

Breath testing equipment helps police test for blood alcohol content of a motorist and determine whether they are driving while intoxicated. For the results to be admissible, the officer must be certified in use of the equipment. Currently police officers are trained in the application of the Intoxilyzer in either Midland or San Antonio, through the Texas Department of Public Safety. That costs the El Paso police department around $1,500 per officer, including travel expenses, at an average total of $30,000 per year. Even with a nearly half-million dollar start-up cost and a $45,000 annual operating cost, the new program is expected to be cost effective by allowing more officers to be trained. The taxpayer will save because the cost will be underwritten by fines from DWI convictions and fees from nearby police departments that are expected to train at the regional facility.

The specially trained officers will combat drunk driving in far West Texas, where the percentage of alcohol related accidents and injuries are above the national average. It has taken nearly 18 months to develop the program, which is expected to start in March 2008.

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