Harris County, Texas: A Hotspot for Drunk Driving Wrecks
Harris County, Texas: A Hotspot for Drunk Driving Wrecks
Harris County, Texas, is home to the fourth-largest city in the United States, Houston, with more than 2.3 million residents. However, Harris County is also a hotspot for drunk driving crashes, ranking first in the state and the nation in alcohol-related fatalities and injuries.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Harris County recorded 3,553 DUI crashes and 160 alcohol-related driving fatalities in 2022. This is more than any other county in Texas, accounting for about 13% of the state’s total drunk driving deaths. The county also had the highest number of alcohol-impaired driving arrests, with 9,287 in 2018.
The problem of drunk driving in Harris County is hardly new. For several years, Harris County has ranked among the top in the country for DUI fatalities and crashes. In 2018, Harris County had 3,229 DUI crashes and 113 alcohol-related driving deaths. In 2016, it had 3,459 DUI crashes and 159 alcohol-related driving deaths.
Why is Harris County so prone to drunk driving incidents? Many factors may contribute to this issue, for example:
The large population and geographic size of the county, which creates more opportunities for drinking and driving.
The high availability and accessibility of alcohol, especially in Houston, which has more than 10,000 bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
The lack of public transportation options and alternative modes of travel, such as taxis, rideshare services, or buses, especially in suburban and rural areas of the county.
The cultural and social norms that may encourage or tolerate drinking and driving, such as peer pressure, binge drinking, or celebrating special occasions with alcohol.
The low perception of risk or consequences of drinking and driving, such as being caught by law enforcement, being involved in a crash, or harming oneself or others.
What can be done to prevent or reduce drunk driving in Harris County? Many strategies exist that have been effective in addressing this problem, such as:
Alcohol-impaired driving laws making it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above a specified level (currently 0.08% in Texas) or with any measurable amount of alcohol for drivers under 21. These laws are enforced by sobriety checkpoints, no-refusal blood draws, and ignition interlock devices.
Public education and awareness campaigns that inform the public about the dangers and consequences of drunk driving and promote responsible choices, such as designating a sober driver, calling a taxi or rideshare service, using public transit, or arranging for someone to pick them up.
Community-based interventions that involve multiple stakeholders, such as law enforcement agencies, health care providers, schools, businesses, media outlets, and advocacy groups, to coordinate efforts and resources to prevent and reduce drunk driving.
Treatment and rehabilitation programs that provide counseling, education, and support for offenders who have substance abuse or dependency issues or who engage in high-risk criminal behavior.
Harris County has taken some steps to implement these strategies and address the problem of drunk driving, including:
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Harris County Constables, the Texas Department of Public Safety, American Automobile Association (AAA) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have joined forces to launch a multi-agency impaired driver task force that focuses on preventing alcohol and drug-related traffic incidents. The initiative allows law enforcement to fast-track the process of investigating and prosecuting drunk drivers.
The TxDOT has partnered with alcohol retailers to promote Uber rides in the Harris County/Houston area, given its status as having the highest concentration of impaired driving fatalities in the state. This program aims to provide a safer alternative by offering discounts and incentives for using Uber services.
The Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department provides in-house treatment options for moderate to high-risk offenders, identified as having significant problems associated with substance abuse or dependency. The department also offers educational and cognitive behavioral classes that teach clients how to cope with emotional regulation, social skills, problem solving, and success planning.
However, while commendable, these efforts are not enough! Drunk driving is a complex and persistent problem that requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach from all sectors of society. Everyone has a role to play in preventing and reducing drunk driving in Harris County. Together, we can make our roads safer for everyone.
We at the Herd Law Firm, PLLC, are drivers and motorcycle riders, too! We support drivers, bikers and motorcyclists injured on the road, and have successfully represented such victims seeking the assistance and compensation they so need and deserve.
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With over three decades of experience, Charles Herd concentrates on Jones Act and maritime-related claims, maritime products liability cases and maritime-related commercial matters. He also handles and resolves insurance coverage issues, commercial truck and vehicle wrecks and other serious injury or damage claims.
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With over 35 years of litigation and management experience, Charles Herd concentrates on Jones Act and maritime-related claims, maritime products liability cases and maritime-related commercial matters.