Is Texas tough enough on drunk driving?

Over the course of five years from 2011 to 2015, a total of 402 people lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes in Bexar County.

For some Texas residents, it may be hard to understand why some people continue to make the negligent choice to drive after consuming alcohol. For many decades now, groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have educated the public about the dangers of this choice.

In Texas, a first conviction for driving while under the influence could find a driver without a license for up to 12 months. The person may also spend anywhere between three and 180 days in jail and pay a fine up to $2,000. A second conviction increases the license suspension period to two years, jail time up to a possible 12 months and fines can be up to $4,000.

Despite the awareness efforts and the penalties, too many people are still dying in drunk driving accidents.

Drunk driving fatalities in Texas

According to the Insurance Council of Texas, drunk driving is one of the biggest factors in an increasing number of fatal accidents in the state. In 2016 alone, there were an estimated 175,000 accidents that resulted in injuries and more than 3,400 crashes in which people died. It is not known how many of those fatal accidents included more than one fatality at a time.

Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show the number of people who have died in drunk driving accidents in the state. In 2011, there were 1,216 drunk driving deaths statewide. That jumped to 1,290 the following year and then jumped again to 1,327 in 2013.

The alcohol-related fatalities in Texas spiked in 2014 as 1,446 people were killed in these accidents. The number declined in 2015 to 1,323 but that is still 1,323 more deaths than should have happened especially given that the cause of those deaths is completely preventable.

In Bexar County alone, 402 people were killed by drunk drivers over the five years spanning from 2011 to 2015.

Recent incidents show the danger continues

It is all too easy to find reports about recent drunk driving accidents in Texas. ABC13 reported on the death of a man in early March 2017 after being hit by a drunk driver. The man's car was stopped at a red light. Upon being struck by the drunk driver, his vehicle was pushed into the way of traffic and hit by two buses.

The Houston Chronicle tells about a crash in February of 2017 in which an impaired driver ran a red light and hit an SUV. The driver of the SUV was killed and the passenger was seriously injured.

Texans deserve help

If public awareness and legal penalties are not enough to stop drunk drivers, people involved in these accidents need to take more action. Talking to an attorney after such a tragic crash should be a priority for any Texan.