Deaths due to drunk driving are still a problem in Texas, according to recent statistics gathered from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Texas agencies.
According to recent statistics, Texas is in the top five states with the highest percentage of alcohol impaired deaths as of 2015. That year, 38 percent of all deaths were associated with alcohol in Texas. In 2016, nearly 987 deaths due to drunk driving occurred.
When a person gets behind the wheel with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher, they are considered impaired under Texas law. As few as two to three drinks in one hour for men, or one to two for women and adolescents can lead to a 0.08 blood alcohol level.
“Impairment begins with the first drink,” states the Texas Department of Transportation on its driver safety website. “Your gender, body weight, the number of drinks you’ve consumed and the amount of food you’ve eaten affect your body’s ability to handle alcohol. Two or three beers in an hour can make some people legally intoxicated. Women, younger people and smaller people generally become impaired with less alcohol.”
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, every 20 minutes, a Texan is hurt or killed in a drunk driving accident. Most drunk driving accidents in the state occur overnight or in the earlier hours of the morning, from 6 p.m. until 4 a.m. The five cities with the highest rates of drunk driving accidents were San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Dallas, and El Paso.
In addition to the tragic consequences of an accident, those caught drunk driving face a number of other possibilities, including ignition interlock for multiple offenses.
Enacted in 2015, under Texas law those caught driving while intoxicated are required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles.
Ignition interlock devices require the driver to take a breathalyzer before being able to start a vehicle. The vehicle will not start if the driver is intoxicated. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers reports that the device has reduced drunk driving deaths by up to 15 percent.
Those who are caught drinking and driving face criminal consequences. Texas offers alcohol rehabilitation programs to first time offenders, along with counseling and other resources.
However, fines of up to $2,000 may be assessed along with up to 180 days in jail, in addition to loss of a driver license for a year, and an annual fee of up to $2,000 for a license. Second and third time offenders face steeper fines and penalties.
Those caught driving under the influence with children in the car face additional penalties, including fines up to $10,000, two years in state jail and loss of a driver license.
The Texas Department of Transportation says that there are four ways drivers can stay safe, including:
- Don’t drink and drive
- Designate a driver
- Call cabs
- Spend the night, if possible
If you or a loved one are in an accident caused by a drunk driver, contact the team of experienced attorneys at McDonald Worley. The case review is free.