LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - This month, the Driver Awareness and Responsibility Training (D.A.R.T.) program will hit two milestones; reaching more than 2,100 drivers and offering a Spanish language version of the program.
The D.A.R.T. program began in March of 2004 with two judges, Barry Bryan and Paul White, seeking a means to prevent drivers repeating a variety of traffic offenses, such as Reckless Driving and Driving While Intoxicated. They worked with local law enforcement officers to develop a program for educating drivers convicted of Class B Misdemeanor, or above, driving-related offenses.
Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Greg Sanchez and Lufkin Police Department Lieutenant Ronny LaRue developed an educational curriculum and in June of 2004 held the first D.A.R.T. class. Seven years and twenty-nine classes later, more than 2,100 East Texas drivers have received this valuable education.
While initially designed for those convicted of traffic-related offenses, class is open to the public; many students attend at the direction of their parents, or in support of loved ones.
Beginning Tuesday, May 17, 2011, the program will offer a Spanish language version.
D.A.R.T. en Español is a project begun earlier this year after Trooper Sanches and Lt. LaRue noticed that many students attending the classes spoke only Spanish. Seeing how difficult it was for these students to participate in the class, and knowing they were not receiving the full benefit of the curriculum, they sought assistance from Spanish-speaking officers. Lufkin Police Department Traffic Safety Section Officers, and brothers, Eddie and Alberto Ibarra answered their call and offered to assist in developing and teaching a Spanish language version of the program, D.A.R.T. en Español.
Judge White's 159th Judicial District Courtroom serves as the classroom for all sessions of all the D.A.R.T. and D.A.R.T. en Español programs.