Drivers in Bryan and College Station will want to be extra cautious if they are planning on driving out to Fourth of July barbecues or cookouts and are looking forward to enjoying a cocktail or two with friends. Starting today, the Texas Highway Patrol has said it will step up its vigilance toward suspected drunk drivers around our nation's Independence Day.

Troopers plan to conduct focused DUI patrols in high-risk locations at times when drunk-driving incidents are statistically most likely to occur, state patrol officials have said. Grants have also made it possible to boost the number of troopers on the job during the increased enforcement period, which runs until July 6.

Last Fourth of July weekend, law enforcement officials made 617 DWI arrests, issued 8,882 speeding citations and ticketed 1,600 seat belt and child safety-seat violators across the state, making it one of the year's busiest weekends for traffic-related citations.

Around the Fourth of July, it is far too easy to have one more margarita or daiquiri than planned. The warm weather means it is also easy to get dehydrated, which can impact how alcohol affects you. It is always best to arrange for a designated driver ahead of time, take a cab or not drive if you plan to drink, but anyone in Texas who is arrested on suspicion of driving drunk should know that such an arrest is not the same as a conviction. An attorney who has experience working with DUI cases may be able to offer you assistance.

Source: KBTX-TV, "Texas Highway Patrol Increases Patrols to Stop Drunk Drivers During the July Fourth Holiday," 27 June 2011.