Drunk Driving Facts
Driving drunk impairs the driver’s judgment, vision, and reaction time. The statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) tell the story of just how dangerous drunk driving is:
Nearly 30 per cent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. involve drunk driving.
In 2017, drunk driving took the lives of 10,874 Americans—one death every 49 minutes.
And one of us is injured as a result of drunk driving every 2 minutes.
What do we know about drunk drivers?
On average, a driver drives drunk 80 times before before their first arrest for drunk driving.
Statistics show that between 50% to 75% of drivers whose licenses have been suspended for drunk driving continue to drive on a suspended license.
Texas law—legal remedies for victims of drunk driving
A driver who drives while intoxicated and causes an injury is liable for negligence. In addition, the driver may be liable for gross negligence and exemplary damages.
Under Texas law, gross negligence requires a showing that the driver’s conduct, when viewed objectively from the standpoint of the driver, involved an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others and that the driver had actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceed in conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others on the road. Transp. Ins. Co. v. Moriel, 879 S.W.2d 10, 23 (Tex. 1994).
Montgomery County leads Texas in driving under the influence fatalities per capita.
According to a report by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute completed for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office in March, the county has topped the list almost every year in the number of fatalities in counties with a population greater than or equal to 500,000 since 2010.
In looking at the reason for the county’s high rate, DA Brett Ligon notes several issues, including Montgomery County largely being a commuter county, having rural roads with no artificial lighting (like street lights) and degrading infrastructure.
“Any time you get away from a suburban, inner-city area and you are dealing with a rural area with a mixture of geography, you are going to have people who drive,” he said. “And obviously, the more people who drive, the more single auto accidents there are going to be.” Ligon said.
Potential liability of restaurants and bars
Texas has a “dram shop” law, which holds establishments liable if they sell alcohol to an obviously intoxicated persons who subsequently drives drunk and causes an injury. The person suing the bar must prove that the bar’s customer was obviously intoxicated to the extent he or she was a danger to themselves or others when they were sold alcohol. Also, if the bar required its bartenders to attend alcohol seller training, it must be shown that the bar encouraged/“turned a blind eye” to over-serving patrons. Over-serving is often encouraged in order to increase profits. The Texas dram shop law also provides that minors may sue business establishments for any injuries they incurred from the sale of alcohol if they were intoxicated at the time of the sale.
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Chapter 2.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a drunk driver, contact us. We may be able to help.