A question I get asked all the time is: why is drunk driving still an epidemic with all the safer alternatives today? The truth is I really don't know. It shouldn't happen, but it does. When people get a pass for violating a safety rule, it rewards that conduct. Unfortunately, drunk drivers are still getting a pass in our courthouses.
Haven't They Already Been Punished?
Drunk drivers can be criminally charged, but where does that leave the injured victim? Where does that leave the family of a killed family member? What happens to these victims and their families? The truth is that the criminal process is vastly different than the civil system.
The civil system is where the community members step up and say "now you must make the damages you caused right". We all understand that there is insurance involved, but we often forget about the victims of a drunk driving wreck being those injured and killed. These people and their families are who we represent here at The Button Law Firm.
How Often Do Drunk Driving Wrecks Happen?
There are approximately 72 alcohol related car wrecks every day in Texas. Houston has more deaths as a result of DWI than any other city in Texas while Dallas has more overall injuries from wrecks involving a DWI than any other city in Texas. All drivers see the signs along the highways updating us on the rising number of deaths on our roadways each year. How many more injuries and deaths need to happen for juries in Texas to realize that this is an epidemic and make a stand?
What Is Drunk Driving In Texas?
Let's start off with the difference between DWI and DUI. DWI stands for driving while intoxicated. DUI stands for driving under the influence. BAC means blood or breath alcohol content.
If you are 21 and over, you are considered an adult for these purposes. Any adult driving a vehicle that has a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or over can result in a DWI charge. For any commercial truck driver (CDL driver), the legal limit for blood or breath alcohol content is only .04 for a DWI charge. The reason for this drop is because of the extreme danger driving a commercial vehicle. They are much larger and can result in much more mayhem than a regular passenger vehicle. Unfortunately, we still see cases where truck drivers are drunk and/or high on drugs. That is a scary thought as you see 18-wheelers passing us on the highways.
Anyone under 21 is considered a minor in Texas with regard to alcohol. We have a zero-tolerance policy here. Any minor caught with ANY alcohol in their system can be charged with a DUI. This includes college students. A minor can be charged with a DWI if they have a BAC of .08 or greater.
Any Special Provisions?
Yes, there are always special provisions. For example, in Texas, if you are found to have been driving with a BAC at .08 or greater with a child in the car, then you can charged at a higher level. This is to protect the kids from being killed in drunk driving crashes with the adult driving them. So, parents if you are going to be drinking, do not drive with your kids. This is not just for your sake, but also the kids.
What Are The Safer Alternatives To Driving Drunk?
Today, there are many more safer alternatives to driving drunk than ever. We now have ride sharing programs in almost every city in the United States. Ride sharing programs such as Uber, Lyft, and many others are now the easy way to be a passenger instead of a drunk driver. A designated driver is always an easy thing to do as well. Pick one in the group you are with to stay sober. Taxi's are still around and able to drive you home if you need.
As a last resort, call a friend or family member to come pick you up. This may not be the easiest to explain or handle, but it is much cheaper than having a DWI on your record and being involved in a serious wreck. We all know that it is usually not the drunk driver that is injured or killed, it is everyone else in the wreck.
Have a plan prior to going out or drinking, even if it is at home. Driving drunk is still an epidemic because people believe that they can get short distances okay. That is never a good idea.
What Resources Are Available To Drunk Driving Victims?
Luckily, there are many resources to those affected in drunk driving wrecks. At The Button Law Firm, we help our clients get to support groups, counselors, and medical professionals that can assist in their recovery. In our wrongful death cases, a grief counselor is vitally important as they can help cope with the sudden loss of a loved one. I have become a huge fan of support groups as they allow our clients to be surrounded by folks that know just what they are going through personally. This is particularly impactful in the brain injury cases as well, but certainly applies to drunk driving victims.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a drunk driving crash, please reach out to us. We are here for you and here to help our community be safer one case at a time. We represent drunk driving victims all throughout Texas. Specifically, we see a lot of these cases in Dallas, Midland/Odessa, Pecas, Marshall, and Houston. It is not enough to punish the drunk driver criminally, they must be held accountable to the victims and make it right. Give us a call or email us to find out how we can help.