Would it shock you to find out that on average nearly 30 people a day die in an accident involving a drunk driver? People are warned for their entire lives about the ramifications of drinking and driving, and yet, people do it every day — often with serious consequences.
In this piece, we’ll go over what it means to get a DUI, the stats related to accidents with impaired drivers, the legal consequences of drinking and driving in the state of Texas, and why it’s important to have an experienced attorney representing your best interests if you’re involved in a DUI car accident.
Texas Car Accidents Involving Alcohol
If the national daily average for DUI accident fatalities is 29, how many of those occur in Texas? According to the State Department of Transportation, 940 people died as a result of a drunk driving accident on Texas roads in 2018. That means that a little over 2.5 people per die lost their lives every day because someone made a mistake.
The same data says that about two-thirds of the people that die in these accidents are drunk drivers and about 14 percent are passengers in the drunk driver’s vehicle. That leaves over 20 percent of those killed in drunk driving collisions who are innocent bystanders, nearby cyclists, or responsible motorists just trying to get to their destination safely.
In terms of total crashes in the same year involving alcohol, there were over 24,000 reported by the Texas DOT. That means on top of those deaths, drunk drivers caused countless life-changing injuries in a single year.
What Are the Legal Limits to Drive in Texas?
Alcohol toxicity is measured by the concentration in your blood, a metric called blood-alcohol content, or BAC.
In Texas and most other states, if you’re operating a vehicle at .08 BAC or above, you’re doing it illegally. For reference, it takes every person a different amount of alcohol over a certain period of time to reach that point. For most women, consuming as few as 1-2 drinks in an hour can cause BAC to surpass the legal limit. For the average man, it typically takes 2-3 in the same time period.
What Happens in a Traffic Stop When DUI Is Suspected?
A DUI stop is similar to any traffic stop. The driver of the vehicle in question has to show their identification/driver’s license, their vehicle’s registration and proof of auto insurance — it’s illegal to operate a vehicle without the minimum insurance coverage in any U.S. state.
What’s different in this case is that the arresting officer will likely perform a visual check to see if they can detect any impairment. They may ask the driver to perform a field sobriety test (exercises that help them to detect the influence of drugs or alcohol), or even ask to test their BAC, usually with a device called a breathalyzer. If the driver refuses, they may be placed under arrest and taken into custody under suspicion of DUI.
What Are the Penalties for DUI in Texas?
The punishment for DUI in Texas changes based on the number of prior offenses you have on your record. According to TxDOT, a first offense can involve a fine of up to $2000, jail time up to 180 days, a year-long driver’s license suspension and an annual fine paid to retain the license once the driver regains driving privileges.
With each additional DUI charge, especially if they occur in close succession to each other, the penalties get more severe in all aspects. If a person has 2 or more DUI convictions in 5 years, they may have to have an ignition interlocking device installed in their vehicle to verify their sobriety before the car will start.
Why Is It Important to Have an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Representing You?
When you’re the victim of a DUI car crash, your life can turn upside down in a matter of seconds. Afterward, you’re almost certainly going to be entitled to compensation for damages, injuries, emotional trauma, loss of wages, and other factors. You need an expert attorney to help you navigate the system, document your medical bills and damages, and make the process as quick and painless as possible.
You need the Cesar Ornelas Law Firm. With their experience in drunk driving accidents, Cesar and his team can represent you during this tough time, and make sure that your interests are represented when it’s time for the person responsible to face the consequences and drinking and driving.
Originally from Kyle, Texas, Mr. Ornelas is a first-generation college graduate and a first-generation attorney.
Licensed in Texas, Cesar Ornelas’s nationwide practice is entirely contingency fee-based and consists of a wide variety of catastrophic personal injury and death cases. He has represented countless victims of catastrophic accidents across the United States.