According to AAA’s Thanksgiving Travel Forecast for 2019, drivers in Dallas-Fort Worth can expect to share the road with a near-record amount of holiday travelers this year. The organization predicts that more than 55 million travelers are planning to kick off their holiday season with a trip of 50 miles or more away from home – the second-highest volume of holiday traffic since AAA began tracking in the year 2000 (2005 still holds the record). 

As Dallas-Fort Worth is ranked as one of the top 10 destination cities in the United States for the holidays, drivers in the metroplex can expect to see more delays, accidents, and law enforcement out on the roads than in previous years. 

At GreeningLaw P.C., we want to make sure everyone is informed and aware of the potential hazards on the road this year so they can protect themselves and the ones they love during the holidays.

The Holidays Bring More DUIs, Drunk Driving Accidents and Deaths

Estimates from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) place the number of drunk driving deaths in the United States at around 36 per day, on average. However, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day typically sees about a 25% increase in the number of drunk driving deaths per day. That’s because Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are three of the top holidays for DUI arrests and alcohol-related car accidents.

Law enforcement experts point to a few common factors that play a role in the increased number of drunk driving arrests and deaths during the holiday season. As we mentioned at the beginning, holiday-related traffic is expected to be near an all-time high this year, which means that the chances of an accident are already higher simply due to the sheer number of people on the road.

Many people like to drink alcohol while celebrating during the holidays, and seasonal beverages (such as eggnog, mulled wine, cider, etc.) can surprise people with their alcohol content. Combine these factors with possible icy conditions on the roads thanks to the cold, and that translates into a greatly increased risk of accidents and injuries as a result of negligent drivers getting behind the wheel.  

What Are the DUI Laws in Texas?

The number of people charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI), also referred to as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), is another thing that spikes during the holiday season as police departments increase the number of patrols on the road to deal with the dramatic increase in the number of drivers.

In the state of Texas, a person is considered driving while intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. For most people, this typically means consuming two drinks (12 oz. beer, 4 oz. wine, or 1 oz. liquor) within one hour, but it can vary depending on your body weight, the type of drink consumed, and other factors. 

Punishment for a DUI in Texas varies depending on the number of convictions:

First Offense

  • A fine of up to $2,000
  • Three days to 180 days in jail
  • Loss of driver license up to a year
  • Annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 for three years to retain driver license

Second Offense*

  • A fine of up to $4,000
  • One month to a year in jail
  • Loss of driver license up to two years
  • Annual fee of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for three years to retain driver license

Third Offense*

  • A $10,000 fine
  • Two to 10 years in prison
  • Loss of driver license up to two years
  • Annual fee of $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 for three years to retain driver license

*After two or more DWI convictions in five years, drivers must install a special ignition switch that prevents their vehicle from being operated if the driver has been drinking.

Other Texas DUI Crimes

If someone is injured or killed as a result of another person getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, the penalties become much more severe. In Texas, accidentally causing serious bodily injury with your car due to drunk driving constitutes intoxication assault, which is a third-degree felony in Texas punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of anywhere from two years to 10 years. 

Accidents which cause the death of another person due to drinking and driving constitute intoxication manslaughter, a second-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of two to 20 years. 

For more information involving minors and drunk driving click here to listen to our podcast.

Tips to avoid driving under the influence this season

While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a few drinks with friends and family during the holidays, getting behind the wheel after having a drink (even if you’re not above the legal limit) is dangerous and irresponsible – and it could leave you open to serious legal and financial consequences if you do. 

Here are a few things anyone can do to avoid driving under the influence:

Designate a sober driver – If you’re going out, designate someone in the group to be a non-drinker to ensure that everyone gets home safe. If your designated driver ends up having a few drinks, play it safe and get a ride home in a taxi or ride-sharing service (Uber, Lyft, etc.).

Hand over your keys – If you are in a position to do so, hand your keys over to a host or someone else you can trust not to give them back until you are OK to drive again.

Offer a place to sleep it off – If you are a hosting a party where alcohol is being served, offer intoxicated guests a spot to sleep until the next day or until they are OK to drive again.

Get a ride – If you don’t have a designated driver but you still need to get somewhere after you’ve been drinking, get a ride from a cab or a ride-sharing service.

GreeningLaw P.C. is here to help

If you or someone you know was injured as a result of someone else driving under the influence, you deserve to be compensated for the many financial hurdles that come with such an injury – including medical expenses, lost wages, temporary or permanent disability and more. 

At GreeningLaw P.C., our experienced personal injury attorneys want to take your case and help you get the compensation you deserve. As one of the most recognized personal injury law firms in the state, we know how to make sure you get fair compensation for your pain and suffering. 

In addition, all of the attorneys at GreeningLaw P.C. work on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t owe us a thing unless you receive compensation for your case.

Contact us today for a free consultation. We will review all the elements of your case, discuss any possible compensation you may receive, and suggest the best course of action.

We fight the legal battle so you have time for healing and renewal. 

Sources: 

  1. Texas Department of Transportation. Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). Accessed November 18, 2019. https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/traffic/safety/sober-safe/intoxication.html
  2. “Texas DUI DWI Penalties.” Attorneys.com. Accessed November 18, 2019. http://www.attorneys.com/dui-dwi/texas/penalties