List: Cities Where Texas Drunk Drivers Die Most Frequently

texas-dui-fatalitiesA Texas law firm has been paying attention to drunk driving in the state, in order to answer the question: Where are you most likely to be killed by a drunk driver in Texas?

Why ask the question? Drunk drivers are dangerous everywhere – they injure, kill, and cause sorrow and distress in every city and county.  But perhaps focusing on fatalities will get the attention of those who have the ability to prevent this crime. A drunk driver, after all, kills one person every 51 minutes in this country.

The list, compiled by Sutliff & Stout Injury and Accident Law Firm, uses TXDOT data to calculate which major towns and cities have the most DUI fatalities per capita.

As it turns out, these cities are the ones that came out the worst. The numbers refer to the number of alcohol-related fatalities per 100,000 population.

  • Odessa 6.26
  • Midland 6.19
  • Dallas 5.88
  • San Marcos 5.21
  • San Antonio 5.15
  • Baytown 5.12
  • Longview 5.09
  • Waco 4.63
  • Houston 4.36
  • Lubbock 4.1

What can we learn from this list? The cities range from Houston, with a population of 2.3 million, to San Marcos, which has just 62,000 people.  Geographically they are all over the map, and their economic and demographic profiles are different.

Here are some possible factors that unite this cities in this unhappy group:

  • Culture of Drinking and Drunk Driving. Drinking is more popular in some places than others, and drunk driving is tolerated more in some places as well. No one knows exactly why this is, but it might be that people tend to be more easygoing about letting friends drive drunk in Odessa than they are in, say, Frisco or Brownsville, which have low DUI fatality numbers.
  • Enforcement presence. If you know you are going to get pulled over, you’re more likely to watch what you drink before driving.  Cities with active sobriety checkpoints and DUI patrols not only catch more drunk drivers, but also warn other drivers to behave themselves.
  • Interlock compliance. Texas has a good all-offender ignition interlock law. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. All those convicted of DUI are required to install the device. But not all offenders do. It’s very possible that some municipalities have a more lax oversight on interlock compliance, which means that it’s easier for first offenders to become repeat offenders who cause DUI fatalities.

There may be other reason, and we hope that other public-spirited institutions follow the example of Sutliff & Stout and dig into the data to reveal more about how and why we drink and drive, and how we can prevent it.

One Month, One County, Hundreds Of Texas Drunk Driving Arrests

Texas drunk driving If you’ve followed Texas drunk driving laws over the past few years, you know that the state has really tried to address the growing problem of drunk drivers. They’ve struggled with losing ride sharing services in a major city, added ignition interlocks for all offenders, and attempted mass DWI checkpoints over the busy holiday season to arrest anyone who drives while intoxicated.

The efforts put forth by lawmakers and police officers appear to be working overall, but one county in Texas is still proving to be a problem. Montgomery County logged more Texas drunk driving arrests during the 2017 holiday season than they did in the last two years.

The holiday period, from November 22nd until New Year’s Day, saw 322 people arrested for DWI. The year before they only saw 233, and the year before that they saw 117.

Why would a county see such a significant increase over a three-year period? For Montgomery County, it’s not that surprising. This county has been at the top of the list for Texas drunk driving arrests for several years, and DWI is the most popular offense in the area. According to one article, they generally log between 2,000 and 2,500 DWI cases every year. Police also believe that country roads play a factor. They’ve said that 74% of Montgomery County DWI crashes have happened in isolated or rural areas.

No matter what the reason, there’s one sure way to stop a drunk driving offender from continuing to drive after he or she is convicted of DWI. An ignition interlock—a device that requires an offender to blow an alcohol-free breath sample into it before the car will start, is required for all first-time offenders in every county in the state of Texas.

If Texas drunk driving offenders install them as ordered, it stands to reason that trouble spots like Montgomery County should see a significant decrease in their drunk driving statistics. Now that they’ve got so many DWI offenders on the books, Montgomery County should focus on ignition interlocks to prevent them from driving drunk again.

Drunk Driving In Texas Can Start With Just One Drink

drunk driving in Texas The biggest question people have about drinking and driving is, “How much is too much?” The answer to that question is simple: there is no safe amount of alcohol you can drink before you drive, and the Texas Department of Transportation would like you to be aware of that. The risk of your crashing or being arrested because of drunk driving in Texas can begin at very low levels of impairment.

According to TDOT, every 20 minutes someone in Texas is injured or killed because of an alcohol-related drunk driving crash. Given the risk, why do people drink and drive? It might be because they don’t realize that one drink might be all it takes to impair your driving skills.

Alcohol affects everyone in a different way

Alcohol has the power to affect your vision, hand/eye coordination, and motor skills, and the effects begin as soon as you’ve had your first drink. What happens after that drink hits your bloodstream depends on a few factors including whether you’re male or female, what your body weight is, and your age.

No every drink is created the same way either. Tall cans of beer look like one can, but they can include as many as three servings of beer. Cocktails you purchase in a club can have two or three different types of liquor, and some wines have more alcohol-content than others.

Because of those differences, no one can tell you that it’s safe to drive after drinking one drink. While one person will feel sober after one or two glasses of beer in an hour, another will be well on their way to impairment after drinking the same amount. That person could easily be arrested for drunk driving in Texas, all because they drank the same amount as another person.

If you’d like to have a drink with dinner or you want to drive home after you’ve been out drinking, your best option is to find a sober driver. If you have to ask yourself, “How much is too much?” you shouldn’t be driving.

What’s The Difference Between A Texas DUI And A Texas DWI?

Texas DUIWhat’s the difference between a Texas DUI conviction—known as driving under the influence, and a Texas DWI—driving while intoxicated? Both include serious penalties, but if you’ve just been charged with either, you should know they aren’t exactly the same thing.

In many US states a DUI is the only charge you’ll receive, and state by state DUI laws highlight the different fines, fees, and penalties you can receive with your charge. Specifically in Texas, what you are charged with depends on a few factors.

What is a Texas DUI charge?

In Texas, you can be charged with DUI if you are stopped by police and your blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the legal limit of .08. If you receive this charge, it’s a Class C misdemeanor on your record.

You can also be charged with Texas DUI if police determine you are a minor and you are driving with any amount of alcohol in your system. That means if you are a minor and you blow into a breathalyzer and register anything other than zero, you can be charged with DUI.

What is a Texas DWI charge?

In contrast to the Texas DUI, a Texas DWI is a charge when a person has been stopped for driving while intoxicated, with intoxicated being defined as having a .08 reading on a breathalyzer or having physical or mental impairment due to alcohol or drugs.

A Texas DWI is a Class B misdemeanor. That can change if you are arrested with a BAC over 0.15 or if you hurt or killed someone because you were driving drunk. In that case your crime could jump up to a felony, and you could be going to prison.

Penalties for both DWI and DUI

Whether you have been charged with a Texas DUI or a Texas DWI, you’ll be receiving penalties for those charges.  The penalties for a Texas DUI will be less severe and could include a driver’s license suspension and fines. Penalties for a Texas DWI could include fines, a driver’s license suspension for a year, and the possibility of an ignition interlock device in any vehicle you drive.

In Texas, just like everywhere else, if you don’t want to pay the price, don’t drink and drive.

 

Hard To Believe, But This Texas DWI Crash Caused By Firefighter

Epic fail sign - Texas DWI There’s not much that can be said when a public servant makes the choice to drink and drive. It’s hard to understand how, after witnessing the crashes when someone drives drunk, they could do it themselves. It’s common too, or at least it might seem that way after a recent Texas DWI crash involving an off-duty firefighter.

The Dallas-based firefighter, Horace Shaw III, was driving after drinking at a local restaurant. He was speeding when he drove over a hill and crashed into an SUV with two occupants: a pregnant teenage girl and her boyfriend. They were both ejected from the vehicle and the teen, Alyssa Pimental, died of her injuries. Her unborn baby died as well.

According to witnesses who were there after the crash, Shaw couldn’t walk straight. He declined to answer questions and was taken to jail. Since that time he’s been charged with intoxication manslaughter, and that means a stiff sentence for causing a Texas DWI crash.

An intoxication manslaughter charge in Texas is much more severe than a first or even second Texas DWI offense. This is a second-degree felony. The offender, whether that person is a public servant or just a citizen of Texas, may spend up to 20 years in prison. He could also have to pay up to $10,000 in fines, and he’ll have to perform community service as well.

The tragedy of this Texas DWI crash is that a mother and her unborn baby were killed, all because someone decided to drive drunk. It’s horrible that a firefighter caused it; a man who worked with the department for 12 years, because he should have known better. Someone on the front lines of a drunk and drugged driving should have realized what one or two drinks could do to their driving skills. If he had, this never would have happened.

 

Texas Drunk Driving Suspect Pulled From Burning Car

Texas drunk driving If you crash your car at low speed and you’re buckled in with your seatbelt, you can easily get hurt and destroy the vehicle. When you crash at high speeds, like a Texas drunk driving suspect did recently, you can cause a lot more damage.

He was driving on an Interstate in Arlington, Texas when he crashed into a pole. A passerby noticed the car was propped up and wrapped around the pole, so he pulled over close by. That’s when he noticed the vehicle was on fire.

There were three people in the vehicle but no one seemed to know it was on fire. The driver was unconscious behind the wheel while a passenger was on the phone with police. The witness noticed the fire was spreading and began urging the occupants to get out, and he and another person dragged the driver, still unconscious, out of the car and toward safety.

That’s when the flames began rising, and had the witness not come upon the car and helped, the people inside may not have made it out. When the driver woke up the witness asked him if he was drunk and he replied yes, he had been drinking. For making the choice to drink and drive, he lost his vehicle to a fire. He’ll most likely be facing drunk driving charges as well.

Thankfully, this Texas drunk driving crash had a somewhat happy ending. All of the occupants survived what could have been a fatal crash. Many drunk drivers aren’t so lucky. Hitting a solid object at a high rate of speed can kill you instantly, and even if you live, if you’re too drunk to get out of the car and it starts on fire like this vehicle did, help may not arrive in time.

This type of crash can happen to anyone who drinks and drives, so think before you drink and hand the keys to a sober driver.

Makes No Sense: Why Do Parents Driving Drunk With Children Along?

driving drunk with children Unless you’ve been living off the grid, you should know by now that driving after drinking alcohol is dangerous, illegal, and could possibly kill you or someone else. Why, then, are parents still driving drunk with children along?

There have been more than a few cases recently that involve parents driving drunk with children in the vehicle, and they will make you wonder what that parent was thinking.

New mother in Texas takes baby along

It’s hard to believe anyone would do anything to endanger an infant, but when you take a baby along with you in your car while you’re drunk, you are putting that baby’s life in jeopardy.

That’s exactly what a mom in El Paso, Texas did recently. She took her four-month-old infant with her, and while driving at one am, was unable to remain in her lane. Thankfully police pulled her over before anyone was hurt, and now she’s facing a DWI with a child passenger charge.

In Texas that charge may be a state felony, and the penalties for it include a $10,000 fine, two years in prison, and the loss of a driver’s license for six months.

Illinois woman charged after she drives impaired with five-year-old

A Naperville, Illinois woman was arrested on a DUI charge after she was stopped for driving erratically. That’s bad enough, but she also had a five year old in the back seat of the vehicle and the child wasn’t in a car seat.

She was called in by a concerned driver, and when police arrived they found she was driving under the influence and had a suspended license. She’s also been charged with endangering the life of a child and received a car seat violation.

In Illinois, endangering the life of a child because of a DUI charge will mean that the defendant receives stiff penalties. She may serve six months in prison, and if that child would have been harmed in any way because she was driving drunk, she could spend one to three years in prison and pay a maximum of $25,000 in fines.

When will parents learn that drunk driving with children along is a bad idea for everyone? The parents end up in hot water, and the children have the potential to be injured or killed. It really is a no win situation for everyone involved.

Friday Fallout: Texas Drunk Driving Laws Include Lawmakers

fingerprintingWe like to think the people who create and enforce state laws are themselves above reproach. Politicians like state senators and councilmen, as well as law enforcement, should know the law better than anyone, but there seems to be a disconnect between some Texas lawmakers and Texas drunk driving laws.

A Tom Bean, Texas city councilman, Benjamin Vincent,  is the latest lawmaker in hot water in the Lone Star State. He didn’t just violate Texas drunk driving laws once; he did it twice, and managed to get a police officer fired along the way.

Vincent was driving his vehicle on a Saturday night when he veered into oncoming traffic. A police officer spotted him, and when he stopped him he was told by Vincent that he was a city councilman from a neighboring town. During the stop he also found out that Vincent was really drunk, and he admitted to drinking an entire bottle of wine before he drove.

Instead of arresting Vincent, the police officer allowed someone to come and pick him up and take him home. That should have been the end of that, because anyone who’s given a free pass and manages to avoid a DWI should never want to drink and drive again.

Unfortunately that was not the case. Having escaped jail and an immediate driver’s license suspension, he got behind the wheel drunk again on another Saturday evening. This time he crashed into another driver.

friday-falloutHe’s now been arrested on a charge of intoxication assault with a vehicle, and if he’s convicted he could spend up to 10 years in prison. The officer who let him off the first time? He’s been fired from his job. Thankfully the victim in the crash didn’t die.

You can take a few things away from a case like this one. To start, law enforcement can’t give anyone a DWI pass, especially someone who should know Texas drunk driving laws. It also calls attention to the fact that the roads would be much safer if all drunk driving offenders in Texas would be required to install an ignition interlock in their vehicle right after arrest.

If he had been arrested the first time and he was released from jail shortly after, he could still have made the decision to drink and drive again. A driver’s license suspension won’t stop a drunk driver who’s determined to get behind the wheel; they’ll just drive anyway, so an ignition interlock is the only way to prevent them from driving again.

Let’s hope both lawmakers and police learned a valuable lesson from this case in Texas, and the next time someone mentions a city councilman and drunk driving in the same sentence, it’s because they are on the job and spending their time toughening up Texas drunk driving laws.

The Friday Fallout: Every Friday Guardian Interlock will bring you a unique drunk driving case that demonstrates the impact, or fallout, of drunk driving.

Watch This Texan Make A Citizen’s Drunk Driving Arrest

Texas drunk driving arrestAlthough the news is full of drunk driving arrests and drunk driving crashes, you don’t really hear a lot about someone making a citizen’s drunk driving arrest. Someone may call 911 because they see a suspected drunk driver on the road, but you don’t often hear about a private citizen formally arresting a driver.

But that’s what happened in Houston, Texas recently when Alejandro Fernandez spotted a car that was being driven erratically on the roads. He was with his family at the time, so someone pulled out a camera and started filming the driver of the other car.

You can watch the video and see how they trailed the suspect, following him into a parking lot and waiting for him to pull over. Obviously the driver realized he was in trouble and, wanting to avoid a drunk driving arrest, attempted to pull his car out of the parking lot. That’s when Fernandez and another man pried open the door and pulled him out of the car.

While holding the suspect, Fernandez performed a citizen’s drunk driving arrest and waited with him for police to arrive. How does a citizen arrest work? According to Texas laws, anyone can arrest another private citizen without a warrant if they have committed an offense within their view and the offense is a felony or against the public peace.

In this case Fernandez knew that the parking lot was full of parents and their children, so he had to make the arrest to stop the man from driving again. That’s a smart decision, especially considering there are many drunk drivers on the roads who aren’t stopped until the crash and kill someone.

All’s well that ends well with this drunk driving arrest, and although police do rely on citizen’s help to stop drunk drivers, they’d much rather you pull over if you need to, safely call 911 to report that driver, and wait for police arrive. That way you’ll have helped apprehend a drunk driver, but you won’t get hurt yourself.

Friday Fallout: A Breathalyzer Is The Way To Stop Teen Drunk Driving

teen drunk driving If you ask a parent how to stop teen drunk driving, they’ll tell you there are no easy answers. Each teen makes up their own mind and will make their own decision on what to do when in a situation where there’s alcohol, and all a parent can do is hope they’ve given their teen enough information and support to make the right choice.

But school officials want to go one step further and make sure that teen drunk driving doesn’t happen on their watch, and that’s one of the reasons why you’re starting to see more and more high schools require teens to blow into a breathalyzer before they’re admitted to events like prom.

Several high schools in Texas have begun requiring breathalyzers at the door of voluntary events like prom and homecoming, and although there has been some controversy over doing so in the past, it’s starting to become the norm to see a police officer, with breathalyzer in hand, at the door of the dance.

Teens have been attending events like Prom and Homecoming for years, so why are school administrators now taking the steps to detect any trace of alcohol in students? Every school has their own reasons, but it may just come down to zero tolerance and the potential danger of any underage drinker having access to alcohol.

Teen drunk driving

Even one glass of alcohol, drank before or during Prom, can affect a teen’s driving skills. While that teen may appear to be fine to school administrators, if she or he has been drinking and then gets in a car after, something tragic could easily happen. The only way to really tell if someone has been drinking prior to the event is to assess them with a breathalyzer.

Teen binge drinking

Teen binge drinking can be deadly, and if students are left at a large event with alcohol, one drink can easily lead to another and another. Drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short amount of time can end in alcohol poisoning or worse, death.

Underage drinking can easily lead to teen drunk driving and teen binge drinking, and that’s something Texas high schools are actively trying to prevent this prom season. It might seem as though having a police officer with a breathalyzer is an extreme way to achieve that goal, but with so many lives lost to drunk driving, sometimes extreme is the only way to go.

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