From staff reports
The weatherman forecasts a 20 percent chance of showers and thundershowers before 1 p.m. today for Longview, but no need exists to take a rain check on Independence Day.
The rain should not put a damper on afternoon barbecues or take the spark out of evening fireworks displays.
The National Weather Service also forecasts mostly cloudy skies with a high today near 90 degrees today, and partly cloudy skies with temperatures dipping to a low around 73 tonight. Skies are expected to stay clear throughout the weekend with temperatures cresting near 93 degrees Saturday and lows near 74 degrees.
With nice weather, Fourth of July celebrants want to make sure today’s holiday is a bang and not become a bust, such as an arrest. That means staying sober behind the wheel in both cars and boats and driving within the posted speed limits, law enforcement officials warn.
The Texas Department of Public Safety is conducting two traffic operations simultaneously through Friday as part of Operation CARE (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort) and Operation Holiday.
DPS troopers will be looking for drivers violating the state’s Move Over, Slow Down law, along with those driving while intoxicated, speeding and failing to wear a seat belt.
Operation Holiday runs in conjunction with the Fourth of July and is geared toward traffic law violators. During the 2018 campaign, troopers issued more than 57,000 citations and warnings, including 1,023 tickets for seat belt and child safety restraint violations. DPS efforts also resulted in 256 DWI arrests, 212 fugitive arrests and 204 felony arrests.
Operation CARE focuses on violations of Move Over, Slow Down, with the Texas Department of Transportation helping in a nonenforcement capacity. From Jan. 1 through June 25, DPS conducted 13,988 enforcement actions for Move Over, Slow Down violations.
The law, which passed in 2003, requires drivers to move over or slow down when certain vehicles — including police, fire, emergency medical services and TxDOT vehicles and tow trucks — are stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated.
Rules also apply to the state’s waterways.
Texas game wardens and thousands of law enforcement officers will be on heightened alert for people violating under-the-influence laws applying to boating. The efforts to crack down on impaired boaters will continue through Sunday during the annual Operation Dry Water weekend, a nationally coordinated, heightened awareness and enforcement campaign focused on deterring boaters from being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.Operating a boat while having a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08 percent is an offense that can lead to fines, jail and the loss of a driver’s license. In 2018, Texas game wardens issued 162 citations for boating while intoxicated.
Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths and a leading cause in recreational boating accidents. Where the primary cause was known, alcohol was listed as the leading factor in 19 percent of deaths, according to the 2017 U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics.
Law enforcement agencies in every state are expected to participate in Operation Dry Water weekend, focusing on detecting impaired boaters and educating the public about the dangers of boating while under the influence. Since the campaign’s start in 2009, law enforcement officers have removed 3,532 boat operators under the influence from the nation’s waterways and made contact with more than 1.3 million boaters during the three-day holiday weekend.