Drinking and driving is a significant problem in Texas. In fact, on average, there are alcohol related deaths in Texas every 20 minutes. This means that over a thousand fatalities a year could be prevented just by not getting behind the wheel while drunk. Just how sobering are the Texas DWI statistics?
Texas Drunk Driving Statistics
In 2017, there were 944 individuals who drove while intoxicated and were involved in fatal accidents. Of these, 6.57% of the drivers were under the age of 21, while 37% were between the ages of 21 and 30. An additional 21% of these drivers were between 31 and 40, with the remainder being over the age of 41. This means that new drivers under the age of 30 make up almost half of all DUI drivers implicated in fatal crashes.
In 2017, 1,024 people died in alcohol-related crashes. Of these, 59 were between the age of newborn and 17 years of age. Nearly 400 of the drunk driving fatalities were between the ages of 18 and 30, with over half being passengers or drivers who were not drinking.
In all, 678 people who died in 2017 were driving while intoxicated. The remainder of the deaths were of passengers in cars driven by drunk drivers (137), persons in vehicles hit by drunk drivers (159), and pedestrians or cyclists hit by drunk drivers (50).
Deaths aren’t the only outcome of drunk driving. In fact, in 2016, over 2,300 people suffered incapacitating injuries as the result of drunk driving crashes, with an additional 5,900 suffering serious but non-incapacitating injuries. Injuries from car accidents can impact the victim for months to years, and even throughout his or her life.
Houston’s DWI Problem
Houston, Texas leads the state in terms of alcohol-related fatalities, with 89 fatal crashes in 2016. As a result, the city has been making a large effort to crack down on drunk driving. In April of 2018, police officers in the city arrested 36 individuals on alcohol-related felony charges. Of these, 14 were arrested for a DWI with a child in the car, two were arrested for manslaughter as the result of driving while intoxicated, and the remainder were convicted of a third DWI, which is considered a felony in Texas. This is just one month in one city!
As part of Houston’s effort to reduce drunk driving, there have been legal consequences issued to bars and restaurants that have been found to be negligent in their service. In May 2018, a Houston bartender was arrested after serving 11 beers to a patron. That patron later fled police in a vehicle while still intoxicated, causing a crash that killed an 18-year-old and injured another passenger in the vehicle.
Three others were charged after providing alcohol to a 20-year-old woman who later drove drunk and killed a woman and an infant. The bartender and son of the bar owner were two of the three who were charged with serving alcohol to a minor.
DWI Laws and Consequences
In Texas, a person is considered to be legally intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, although if one is impaired by alcohol or drugs, regardless of BAC, they still can be considered and fined for being intoxicated.
The first time you are convicted of a DWI, you might face the following consequences:
- Loss of your driver’s license for a year
- A fee of $1000 to $2000 per year for three years to retain your driver’s license once it’s restored
- Jail sentence of 3–180 days
- $2000 fine
- Loss of driver’s license for two years
- An annual fee of $1000–2000 for three years to retain your driver’s license once it is restored
- 1–12 months in jail
- $4000 fine
- A special ignition switch must be added to your vehicle to prevent you from driving it if you’ve been drinking after two or more DWIs in five years.
- Loss of driver’s license for up to two years
- Annual fee up to $2000 for three years to retain your driver’s license
- 2–10 years in prison
- $10,000 fine
DUI with a Child in the Car
If you are convicted of a DWI while a child under the age of 15 is in the car, you can face the following consequences:
- Loss of driver’s license for 180 days
- Up to two years in jail
- $10,000 fine
It is clear that drunk driving is a significant issue in Texas, responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths each year. A good number of deaths and injuries in these accidents are to individuals who were passengers, pedestrians, or drivers hit by drunk drivers. While many cities in Texas have developed programs and initiatives designed to curtail drunk driving, there is still more that needs to be done to avoid these needless and preventable deaths and injuries.
Don’t become a statistic. If you are struggling with alcohol abuse, it is essential that you reach out for professional help before you, someone you know, or even an innocent bystander become yet another statistic.
About The Author: Charles Watson is the current content writer for Sunshine Behavioral Health – Alcohol Rehab in Texas. A lifelong health advocate, he can be reached directly on Twitter at @charleswatson00.