Houston has long struggled with drunk driving, but since the start of 2019, the problem has multiplied in severity. According to the HPD as reported by the Houston Chronicle, drunk driving arrests are up 75% over the first six months of 2019, and this is setting off alarms throughout the city. Car accidents have long-term implications, with increased insurance and medical costs and psychological trauma key among them. Now, faced with extreme cases of reckless, drunk driving, HPD is seeking solutions that will make the city’s roads safer.
One way in which Houston’s authorities are working to minimize drunk driving in the city is by raising awareness of the legal and personal consequences of such actions. Through grant funding, for example, Baylor College of Medicine has been running a drunk driving education program at Houston-area high schools. A two-day program, Shattered Dreams dramatizes drunk driving accidents so that young people embracing their newfound independence can see the trauma of these accidents firsthand. Other, more direct interventions include setting up checkpoints on the roads or even taking steps to lower the legal BAC limit for drunk driving.
Highlighting The Consequences
For those who have already been arrested and charged with a DWI, prevention programs are too little too late, but their cases can certainly be used to highlight the crisis for others. Aggressive Houston-area car accident attorneys make a point of pursuing greater damages when someone is injured or killed in a drunk driving accident, incidents, which are classified as intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter. Such cases can result in decades in jail and disenfranchisement, as they are felony offenses.
Extreme Cases Highlight Houston’s Crisis
In recent weeks, unusually extreme DWI cases have occurred that shed light on the severity of the crisis. In one case from the weekend of July 28, a couple nearly collided with a police cruiser while intoxicated and driving with their children in the backseat, and that same weekend teenagers crashed into local patrol units dispatched by the sheriff’s office, injuring two police officers. Both of these cases carry potential added punishments.
In the first case, the parents could be subject to added sanctions for driving while intoxicated with children under age 15 in the car, including potential child endangerment charges. Meanwhile, in the latter case, the fact that law enforcement officers were injured in the accident means that it can be prosecuted at a higher level. While all DWI cases are serious, these are evidence of a city out of control in ways that would be completely unfamiliar to the average metropolitan area.
Beyond increasing patrols, developing a DWI task force, and instituting checkpoints – which some claim may amount to illegal searches, Houston is struggling to find strategies that will bring down its drunk driving rates. Without sufficient action, however, there’s one thing that is certain: this year could be the deadliest one for Houston drivers in recent history.
For those concerned about their safety, the only solution may be to cut back driving times, avoid the most dangerous roadways, and stay home on major holidays when accidents tend to increase. Safe drivers shouldn’t be punished for the actions of reckless ones, but that is the current state of affairs.