Drunk Driving Accidents Continue to Plague the Nation
When a person makes the careless decision to drive drunk, the repercussions can be devastating. On this page, you’ll get a closer look at drunk driving in Texas and learn how victims can seek compensation with the help of a Houston drunk driving accident lawyer.
What Is a DUI/DWI?
A DUI or DWI is a criminal charge given to any person found operating a vehicle while they are intoxicated by alcohol and/or drugs. DUI stands for “driving under the influence” and DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated,” but they are the same thing regardless of which acronym is used. In Texas, DWI is the preferred term. A person who is clearly intoxicated or shows a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) equal to or greater than the legal limit of 0.08% on a breathalyzer test will be charged with a DWI.
Drunk Driving in Texas: Statistics and More
In the state of Texas, drunk driving is considered an extremely serious offense. Drivers caught behind the wheel after drinking heavily or using drugs may face hefty fines, license suspension, or even jail time.
Take a look at the following information about drunk driving and DWI accidents in Texas:
- The percentage of adults who reported driving after drinking excessively within the 30 days before they were surveyed was 2 percentage points higher in Texas than the national average (2.1% vs. 1.9%).
- In the 9-year span from 2003 to 2012, 13,138 people were killed in drunk driving accidents on Texas roadways. This accounts for 11% of all such fatalities in the U.S. in that period.
- When filtered by age group, individuals aged 21-34 had the highest fatality rate in Texas drunk driving accidents.
- When filtered by gender, men had a higher fatality rate than women.
- Texas enforces a zero tolerance law for drivers under the age of 21, and those caught driving with any amount of alcohol in their systems can face a misdemeanor charge known as “driving under the influence of alcohol” (DUIA). They may also receive a DWI charge if they meet the criteria.
Drunk Driving Civil Lawsuits
Because a DWI is a criminal offense, a person who drives while intoxicated and causes an accident will face a criminal case brought by the state of Texas. In addition to this criminal DWI litigation, a drunk driver can also be sued by an accident victim in a civil case.
In a drunk driving civil lawsuit, a victim or victim’s family can seek compensation for any harm or loss caused by the driver’s reckless actions. Victims may sue for money to cover a variety of costs, including (but not limited to) medical bills, automotive repairs, loss of income, and ongoing treatment expenses.
What to Do After an Accident
When you’ve been struck by an intoxicated driver, the first few minutes after the accident can be extremely scary and confusing. Do your best to keep your wits about you and try to follow the steps below. If it helps, you might even keep a copy of the list in your glove compartment.
- Check the medical status of everyone in the car. If you or anyone else in the vehicle has been seriously injured or unconscious, or if the accident was severe enough to suspect internal trauma, call 911 and request emergency medical care immediately. You can’t be too cautious in such a situation.
- Even if the accident was minor, call the authorities right away so you can get a police report.
- As soon as you can after the accident, make note of as many small details as possible. Write them down or store them in a note on your phone.
- If you are able and feel well enough to do so, exit your vehicle and begin taking down notes and snapping photos of the scene with your cell phone. Be sure to take pictures of damage to any vehicles or property involved, as well as a full picture of the scene to show the context and positioning of cars and objects.
- When the police arrive, give your statement and all possible details of your experience to the police for their report. Be as honest as you possibly can, but refrain from making any statements that could be construed as an admission of fault on your part. Make sure that all necessary information is exchanged.
- As soon as you can, contact a Houston drunk driving accident lawyer. Make sure you talk to them before you call your insurance company.
Recovering Damages as the Victim of a Drunk Driver
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a drunk driving accident, you are entitled to receive compensation for any injuries or other damage you may have suffered as a result. If you’d like to pursue a civil suit against the negligent driver who caused the accident, the first thing you need to do is get in contact with a Texas car accident lawyer experienced in drunk driving cases.
Is There a Time Limit on Filing a Claim?
Texas statutes of limitation provide guidance as to how long a victim has to file a civil case for a certain type of harm. Starting from the time that the drunk driving accident occurs, victims have a total of two years to file for claims involving personal injury, property damage, and wrongful death caused by the accident. Any case brought after the statute of limitations has expired has a good chance of being dismissed.
Hurt by a Drunk Driver? Turn to the Experts at Johnson Garcia, LLP
Don’t let the reckless actions of a drunk driver go unchallenged; hold the perpetrator accountable and seek with the help of a lawyer experienced in dealing with accidents caused by a drunk driver. At Johnson Garcia, LLP, we’ll help you understand your legal rights and obligations and build a strong case to recover the damages you and your loved ones are owed.
To schedule your free initial consultation, call us today at (832) 844-6700.