Texas Laws Not Preventing Drunk Driving Deaths

DWI Laws in Texas might seem tough but the number of people still dying at the hands of drunk drivers suggests they’re not tough enough.

For several decades now, residents in Texas and around the nation have no doubt heard much about the dangers of drinking and driving. Countless public awareness campaigns have been launched by advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, local law enforcement agencies and more have worked tirelessly to encourage people to find alternative methods of transportation if they will be drinking.

At the same time, the laws surrounding drunk driving have evolved and many people, possibly those arrested for drunk driving, claim that they are very stringent. Sadly, Texas continues to lose precious lives at the hands of drunk drivers.

How many people are killed by drunk drivers in Texas?

The Texas Department of Transportation states that one person is either killed or injured in a drunk driving accident in Texas every 20 minutes.

According to records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 3,776 total vehicular fatalities in Texas in 2016. Of those, 1,438 or 38 percent were in crashes in which alcohol was a contributing factor.

This seems to be a trend that has been relatively consistent in Texas. Over the five years spanning from 2012 through 2016, between 37.8 percent and almost 41 percent of all deaths in automobile accidents occurred in crashes involving a drunk driver.

In Austin County specifically, 33 people died in traffic accidents over those same five years and nine of those were killed at the hands of drunk drivers. At just over 27 percent of the total vehicular fatalities, that is a slightly lower ratio than the state average but still represents a significant portion of deaths, all of which should be preventable.

What are Texas' penalties for drunk driving?

A charge of driving while intoxicated in Texas is generally a Class B misdemeanor. A person convicted of a first DWI offense may spend as few as three days or as many as 180 days in jail. Their fine could range from $1,000 to $2000 and they may be required to pay an additional fee for three years in order to retain a driving license. There may also be a license suspension period but the driver would not be required to install an ignition interlock device.

It is only after a second or subsequent offense in five or fewer years than an IID may be required. This device is intended to prevent repeat offenses by requiring a breath sample from a driver before a vehicle can be started.

How can Texas residents get help?

Anyone who has been involved in an accident involving a drunk driver should contact an attorney. This provides them with someone who will advocate on their behalf regardless of what happens in the criminal justice system.