Driving on Texas roadways can be incredibly dangerous. In fact, the Texas Department of Transportation estimated that between 2010 and 2018, more people died on Texas roadways than in any other state. In addition to being the state with the most traffic fatalities, Texas also had the highest number of drunk driving fatalities.
According to at least one study, Texas is home to the highest number of drunk driving fatalities in the country and ranks among the top five most dangerous states for driving under the influence (DUI). The study used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Alcohol-Impaired Driving Report and calculated the number of DUI fatalities in each state. In Texas, roadway fatalities totaled over 3,000; and, 1,468 of them involved drunk driving.
On average, fatal drunk driving accidents most commonly involve people ages 21 to 24 and involve men four times more often than women. According to NHTSA, over half of DUI related fatal crashes happen at night in urban areas. When a person drives under the influence of alcohol or other substances, they are putting other drivers and passengers at an increased risk for an accident. Drunk driving accidents are often incredibly devastating and can result in critical injuries or even death.
Why Intoxication Makes Drunk Driving Accidents So Deadly
Drunk driving accidents can be particularly devastating because when a driver is intoxicated, they have very little control over their actions. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that slows brain function while also impairing decision-making and muscle coordination. All of these functions are vital to driving. Alcohol also has a compounding effect on the body, meaning the more alcohol you drink, the more intoxicated you become over time. Because of this, a driver may not even realize how drunk they are until an hour or so after consuming alcoholic drinks.
Texas Drunk Driving Accident Injuries
When one is involved in a roadway crash, injuries can range from minor to catastrophic. These injuries can affect multiple parts of the body at once. Some of the most common injuries sustained in drunk driving accidents include:
- Spinal injuries: Injuries to the spinal cord can be particularly devastating. Partial or complete paralysis can result. In addition, an injury to the back can cause discs in the spine to slip or rupture, leading to nerve damage.
- Neck injuries: Injuries to the neck sustained in a drunk driving accident are fairly common, as the neck is often vulnerable when a car crash occurs. While whiplash is the most widely reported motor vehicle accident injury, other neck injuries can be far more serious. The impact of a collision can crush the trachea or damage the larynx, which can cause permanent difficulties related to eating, breathing, and moving.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): Brain injuries can occur when a crash involves a drunk driver, causing neck jolting and the head to hit a surface, such as the roof, window, or steering wheel of the vehicle.
- Chest injuries: Injuries to the ribs and sternum are fairly common. These injuries are particularly dangerous, as splintered or broken ribs can puncture vital organs like the heart.
- Leg and knee injuries: Injuries to the legs and knees typically occur in a side-impact crash. Broken bones, shattered knees, and torn ligaments can lead to long-term complications, including becoming immobile.
Tough Laws Don’t Prevent Texas Drunk Driving
If someone is caught driving drunk in Texas, a number of harsh penalties await:
- First Offense: a minimum of three and as much as 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, and a driver’s license suspension of up to a year.
- Second offense: a minimum of 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, and a driver’s license suspension of up to two years.
- Third and subsequent offenses: a mandatory two years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, and a driver’s license suspension of up to two years.
Not only that, but after a second, third, or subsequent offense, a driver will also be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle requiring them to blow into a breathalyzer to be able to start their car and at regular intervals afterward.
Unlike other states, Texas does not have a look back period; it doesn’t matter if your first drunk driving offense occurred more than 20 years ago, it will still count as a prior offense. In other words, Texas law basically gives you one chance to drink and drive, but after that you will pay if you do it again for the rest of your life.
Despite these harsh laws, drunk driving in Texas remains far too prevalent and far too big of a problem, with drunk driving fatalities accounting for more than 40 percent of all motor vehicle accident fatalities in the state every year. Regardless of the steps the state has taken, drunk driving continues to be an extremely serious problem and has caused a great many serious injuries and deaths.
Drunk Driving Epidemic in Lubbock
Lubbock can be a dangerous place to drive or ride on the roadways. The Lubbock car accident lawyers at Liggett Law Group urge residents and visitors driving along I-27, Loop 289, and Highways 114 and 82 to drive safely to avoid car accidents. With our city’s close proximity to three universities: Lubbock Christian University, Texas Tech University, and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, local drivers must be alert and cautious of students drinking and driving. College students must practice responsibility both on and off campus. It is negligent and irresponsible for students to drive while under the influence – and it is of course against the law.
Lubbock Drunk Driving Attorneys
No one should drink and drive. This incredibly negligent behavior is entirely avoidable and puts many others at risk of being hit by an intoxicated driver. At Liggett Law Group, we fight to hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions and help victims obtain the compensation and peace of mind they need to move forward. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident with a drunk driver, contact the experienced trial attorneys at Liggett Law Group today for a free consultation.