Texas Leads Nation With Highest Number of Drunk-Driving Deaths
Texas leads the country in the number of drunk-driving deaths that occur within the state. There are some distinctions a state may want, but this isn’t one of them.
According to statistics maintained by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, 1,446 drunk-driving deaths happened in Texas in 2014. And according to the Department of Transportation, drunk-driving in Texas results in a death or injury every 20 minutes on average.
Compared to previous years, the numbers for 2014 show a substantial increase in the number of Texas drunk-driving deaths over numbers from previous years. Fatalities that year were more than 8 percent higher than those for the previous year—while drunk-driving arrests decreased over the same period.
Making the issue even more tragic is the high rate of repeat offenders among Texas drunk drivers. According to one estimate, 70 percent of drivers in fatal accidents were repeat offenders, with blood alcohol contents as high as 0.15 or higher.
Underage drunk-driving can be a particular problem near the Mexican border. The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18. Bars along the Mexican side of the border cater to young Texas drinkers who come for the legally eased access to alcohol, as well as to pay lower prices for it.
Research shows that compared to U.S. drinkers, those in the Mexican border area are younger, drink more, and report more alcohol-related problems.
The results show up in the numbers of drunk-driving deaths involving underage drinkers behind the wheel. Underage drinkers accounted for 193 of the drivers in the 2014 fatalities statewide, and drivers under the age of 18 accounted for 434 of those arrested for drunk-driving in 2014.
How Much Alcohol Makes a Driver ‘Intoxicated’?
It doesn’t take much drinking for a driver to be recognized under the law as being intoxicated.
Texas law recognizes a person as being intoxicated if their blood alcohol content, or BAC, is 0.08 percent or higher. For an adult male, drinking two or three drinks within an hour can result in surpassing the 0.08 BAC mark. For women or younger drinkers, it can happen with even fewer drinks.
The 0.08 BAC benchmark isn’t exclusive, though. Legally, a person can be considered ineligible to drive at any level of intoxication, as long as their ability to drive has been impaired in any way.
Penalties under Texas law aren’t easy to blow off. Fines start at $500 for having an open alcohol container inside the car.
A first offense of driving while intoxicated can put a driver on the hook for up to $2,000 in fines and 180 days in jail. The fine for drunk driving can rise as high as $10,000 with a child passenger in the vehicle.
The driver can also lose their driver’s license for up to a year, then be required to pay an annual fee of up to $2,000 for the next three years to get their license back. Drunk drivers who commit a third offense may be hit with a fine up to $10,000 and a jail sentence of up to 10 years.
If you were injured in a drunk driving accident in Texas, you may qualify for compensation. Contact The Emma Law Firm a FREE case evaluation by filling out the form below.