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Texas website shares victims, families DWI accident stories

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

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