Public awareness and focused law enforcement campaigns are used to highlight the consequences of drunk driving. Texas Department of Transportation officials recently activated facesofdrunkdriving.com to share the stories of drunk-driving accident victims and their families.
The website announcement came just before the high-traffic Fourth of July holiday and a state-sanctioned crackdown called a "no-refusal weekend." The program gives police permission to have drivers undergo blood tests when DWI suspects refuse to submit to alcohol breath tests.
State drunk-driving accidents occur at the rate of one about every 20 minutes. TxDot officials said over 25,000 DWI-related crashes were recorded statewide in 2012, with 1,170 deaths caused by intoxicated Texas drivers. As one transportation official noted, statistics don't tell victims' tales.
A Houston couple and their son were on hand when transportation and police officials publicly revealed the new programs. The wreckage of a Ford Mustang was displayed near the father as he shared the story of the loss of his 20-year-old son. The mangled vehicle was the one his son was driving when he was struck and killed in a 2011 car accident in Cypress.
The blood alcohol content of the driver who survived the fatality was over three times the state intoxication limit. The man, a repeat DWI offender, spent about 90 days in jail. The punishment was not harsher because investigators failed to determine which vehicle ran a red light at the intersection where crash occurred.
The driver was ordered to stand in public wearing a sign stating that his drunk driving killed the young man. The defendant complied for one day before begging a court to relieve him of the task for fear of personal harm.
The victim's father stated his family bore the expenses of a funeral, an unanticipated addition to grief for survivors. Financial hardships imposed upon accident victims and families are recoverable through liability claims in state civil courts.
Source: yourhoustonnews.com, "The human cost of drunk driving in Texas" Zach Haverkamp, Jul. 06, 2013