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Texas DWI Facts & Trends

Updated: May 16, 2023 @ 11:14 pm

Less than 1 minute Reading Time: Minutes

Texas continues to aggressively prosecute suspected DWI cases, all with an eye toward lowering the number of people who illegally drink and drive in our state. As recent statistics show, however, reducing drunk driving is easier said than done. The Lone Star State continues to see thousands of people arrested for drunk driving, and thousands of people have been killed by drunk drivers over the past decade. Now, drugged drivers are an emerging risk, with marijuana use being a main driver.

Call Tad Nelson & Associates if you are picked up for DWI. We can defend you from the start of your case all the way to the end. Read the statistics below to see why Texas continues to prosecute drugged and drunk driving.

37% of Traffic Fatalities Involve Impaired Drivers

This statistic is for the entire decade from 2012 to 2021. More than 1 in 3 victims of fatal traffic accidents were either drunk or struck by someone who was impaired.

Most of these fatalities happened between 2:00 am and 3:00 am on Saturday and Sunday. Those are the hours when people crawl home from a pub or a friend’s house after drinking.

There is No Clear Downward Trend

The Texas Department of Transportation has published a graph showing the number of DUI fatalities in the past decade. As you can see, the numbers creep up slowly from 2012 to 2017. There is a brief downward trend for 2018 and 2019, but then the numbers pop up again for 2020, before declining slightly for 2021.

What should we make of these numbers? For one, the slight decrease for 2021 could be for COVID, although we would have expected to see a decrease in 2020 for similar reasons. Instead, the numbers in 2020 went up slightly, from 1281 fatalities in 2019 to 1326 in 2020.

It’s hard to see any pattern to these numbers. Of course, Texas’ population has increased significantly in 10 years—growing by around 15%–so the rate of DWI deaths has probably declined, which is good news. But more than a thousand die each year.

Men Are Much More Likely to Be Killed in a DWI

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published data on Texas drunk driving. They found that the fatality rate for men was 7.6 out of 100,000. For women, the rate was only 2.5 per 100,000. Essentially, the rate is 3 times higher for men.

Our Fatality Rate is Much Higher than the Nation’s

The CDC data also shows that the fatality rate nationally for men is 4.9 per 100,000. That means Texas’ rate is about 50% higher for men. Nationally, the rate for women is 1.6. So the rate for women in Texas is similarly around 50% higher.

The Fatality Rate in Texas is Higher for All Age Groups

Even drivers under 21 have a higher fatality rate in Texas (1.8 per 100,000) than the national average (1.1 per 100,000). And it’s illegal for this age group to drink!

More Texans Admit to Drunk Driving

Around 2.2% of Texas adults report that they have driven after drinking too much at least once in the past month. The national average is 1.7%.

Given the higher fatality rate, we suspect that Texas are under-reporting their likelihood of driving while drunk. The real number is probably much higher.

Drugged Driving is Also a Serious Problem

The nation has seen an uptick in the number of motorists who have drugs in their system, whether marijuana, prescription medications, or illegal substances like cocaine or methamphetamine.

For example, a National Roadside Study in 2014 found that 15.1% of drivers during a roadside stop had illegal drugs in their system, while 12.6% had marijuana, and about 5% had medications. These numbers were all higher in 2014 than in 2007.

According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use, 11.7 million people in the U.S. drove while under the influence of an illicit drug (including marijuana). This number was just behind the 13.5 million who drove under the influence of alcohol. Studies have also shown that those who were killed in car accidents were very likely to have drugs in their system. One study from 2016 showed that 43.6% had a positive drug test.

As Texas continues with its decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, we expect these numbers to continue to climb.

We Can Defend You from Houston DWI Charges

No one should face maximum penalties for a simple mistake. You shouldn’t be treated like a felon simply because you grabbed the keys after having one too many. Call Tad Nelson & Associates for a consultation.

Houston DWI Lawyer Tad A Nelson is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the TBLS.

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