According to figures compiled by CBS News, Texas reported 605 incidents of drinking and driving per 1,000 people living in the state. While this does not mean that 6 out of 10 people in Texas drink and drive, it does present an alarming picture of the risks currently facing drivers in the Lone Star State. The most recent data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that Texas led the nation in fatalities related to drunk driving for 2013 with 1,337 lives lost. For 2014, the picture is slightly better; only 1,041 people were killed in alcohol-related accidents in Texas. This does constitute 29 percent of all traffic fatalities, however, and highlights the serious threat that drunk driving poses to Texas motorists. For victims of these accidents, working with experienced Houston car wreck attorneys can provide much-needed assistance in achieving a fair settlement for their injuries, damages and losses.
Who Is at Risk?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) track the injuries and deaths caused by impaired driving in the U.S. and have identified three groups at higher risk of death due to drinking and driving:
- Roughly one-third of those involved in fatal alcohol-related crashes were between the ages of 21 and 24. Inexperience with the effects of alcohol and with driving in general may be contributing factors to this high level of risk.
- Drivers with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels of 0.08 percent or higher who were involved in fatality accidents were six times more likely to have prior citations or convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol in the past.
- Motorcyclists were also a high-risk group for fatality accidents related to alcohol use.
According to the Houston Police Department, approximately 10,000 drunk driving cases are prosecuted in the metropolitan area each year. This represents a tremendous threat to public safety. Harris County has an especially bad record in this area:
- In 2013, half of the people on probation in Harris County were under court supervision because of DWI convictions.
- The Texas Department of Transportation reported 177 fatalities and 3,020 accidents related to alcohol use for Harris County in 2014.
- The rate of alcohol-related fatalities for Harris County in 2009 was 60 percent, double that of the national average.
Taking steps to address this problem is essential to protect the safety of motorists in Houston and the surrounding areas.
Reforming the System
In response to these alarming figures, the Harris County Community Supervision Department has begun to implement significant changes to the way in which those convicted of DWI offenses move through the system. Risk assessments will be performed on all DWI defendants to determine the likelihood that they will reoffend; those deemed most at risk will be assigned to probation officers who have undergone specialized training through a Hard Core Drunk Driver course. A uniform set of probation terms has also been instituted among judges in the area, and a Sober Court has been set up to provide added attention to DWI defendants in Harris County.
For victims of DWI accidents, the road to recovery can be long and full of challenges. Houston vehicle accident lawyers work with injured individuals and their families to ensure the highest possible financial settlement to cover medical expenses and damages caused by these incidents. In many cases, filing a Houston auto accident lawsuit may be the only way to ensure fair compensation from insurance companies and from negligent drivers for the damage caused by drunk driving wrecks. These dedicated professionals will investigate all aspects of the accident to identify all parties at fault, including establishments that may have overserved the driver. This comprehensive approach to liability can result in higher awards and out-of-court settlements, allowing victims to achieve a fair settlement for their losses.