Texas Drunk Driving Statistics
About every 20 minutes in Texas, someone is hurt or killed in a vehicular crash involving alcohol.1 While many DUIs involve college students, the recent case of a Zapata County priest charged with driving while intoxicated after a single-car accident, shows this problem impacts people of all ages and walks of life.2 In Montgomery County alone, the sheriff’s office arrested 62 individuals as part of “Operation Blackout,” an anti-DUI effort conducted during the 2017 Memorial Holiday weekend. Some of them were charged with driving while intoxicated with a child, one was a boating incident and several were third offenses.3
According to Texas law, being intoxicated while driving means having a blood-alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Regardless of the BAC, a person is considered intoxicated and driving under the influence if he or she is impaired in any way. A typical drinker can achieve that level of drunkenness from having two or three drinks in an hour. For women and adolescents, drinking just one or two drinks in an hour may lead to a BAC of 0.08.1
Texas DUI Statistics
- In 2016, 987 people lost their lives to DUI incidents, including 56 pedestrians and cyclists, 143 passengers in vehicles driven by DUI drivers, 638 DUI drivers, 149 persons in vehicles not driven by DUI drivers and one other.4
- By age, fatalities were as follows: 18 and younger: 46, aged 19-30: 392, aged 31-49: 348, aged 50-83: 201. The youngest person who lost their life was 1-year-old and the oldest was 83.5
- Of 17,434 DUI crashes, the five cities with the highest number of crashes were San Antonio: 1,845, Houston: 1,492, Austin: 1,432, Dallas: 1,310 and El Paso: 758.6
- A large majority of DUI crashes occur between 6 p.m. and 4 a.m., with the two highest days being Saturday and Sunday.7
- In 2015, 18 states actually saw decreases in alcohol-impaired fatalities compared to 2014, with Texas leading the way with 123 fewer deaths.8
Efforts to Curtail DUI Accidents
Since September 2005, judges in Texas have been required to order ignition interlocks for all repeat offenders or first-time offenders with a BAC of 0.15 or greater as a condition of probation. On June 19, 2015, Texas became the 25th state to pass an all-offender ignition interlock law. It requires all people caught driving while intoxicated (DWI) to have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicles in order to have their driving privileges restored following an arrest. Since then, Texas drunk driving deaths have decreased by 8.5%. As of August 2015, 43,789 interlocks have been installed in Texas. In the 10-year period between Dec. 1, 2006 and Dec. 1, 2016, these locks were responsible for preventing 244,991 drunk-driving ignition starts.9
In 1994, the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that for any sobriety checkpoint to be reasonable, it must at a minimum be authorized by a statewide policy governing checkpoints. Texas has not authorized police officers to conduct roadblocks, nor sanctioned their enforcement. Therefore, sobriety checkpoints or similar roadblocks are unconstitutional in the state. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers suggests passing laws allowing these checkpoints and requiring ignition interlocks for drivers who refuse a chemical alcohol test could reduce the number of DUI deaths even further.9
Texas participates in a pretrial diversion program, formerly known as DIVERT, which offers an alternative to prosecution. First-time offenders who qualify for participation receive coordinated assistance in personal and group counseling, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and other community agencies appropriate to their needs. This program has firmly drawn guidelines, the terms of which generally are spelled out in a contract the judge signs off on before it begins. Most programs generally last a full year.10
If you have a drinking problem, it is important to seek help before you and or your loved ones become a DWI statistic. With more than 15 locations throughout Texas, The Right Step family of addiction treatment centers is one of the largest in the Southwest. Call us today at 1-844-768-1126.
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). Texas Department of Transportation website. http://www.txdot.gov/driver/sober-safe/intoxication.html Accessed June 6, 2017.
- Zapata priest arrested after allegedly driving drunk, crashing into ditch. LMTonline website. http://www.lmtonline.com/local/crime/article/Zapata-priest-suspected-of-driving-drunk-11158259.php Updated May 20, 2017. Accessed June 6, 2017.
- Ramirez F. Montgomery County police nab dozens of alleged drunk drivers during Memorial Day weekend. Houston Chronicle. May 31. 2017 http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/conroe/news/article/Montgomery-police-arrest-DWI-memorial-day-drunk-11185762.php. Accessed June 6, 2017.
- Texas Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics – 2016. Texas Department of Transportation. http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/trf/crash_statistics/2016/50.pdf Accessed June 6, 2017.
- Texas Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics – 2016. Texas Department of Transportation. http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/trf/crash_statistics/2016/36.pdf Accessed June 6, 2017.
- Texas Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics – 2016. Texas Department of Transportation. http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/trf/crash_statistics/2016/40.pdf Accessed June 6, 2017.
- Texas Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics – 2016. Texas Department of Transportation. http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/trf/crash_statistics/2016/44.pdf Accessed June 6, 2017.
- Just Released: NHTSA Reports Largest Jump In Drunk Driving Deaths In 10 Years. Sobering Up website. https://www.scramsystems.com/blog/2016/09/nhtsa-reports-largest-jump-in-drunk-driving-deaths-in-10-years/ Published September 1, 2016. Accessed June 6, 2017.
- Texas. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers website. http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/state-stats/Texas.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/ Accessed June 6, 2017.
- Rogers B. Outgoing DA dismisses DWI for prominent lawyer Tony Buzbee. Houston Chronicle. December 20, 2016. http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Outgoing-DA-dismisses-DWI-for-prominent-lawyer-10806684.php. Accessed June 6, 2017.