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Texas Among Worst States at Preventing Drunken Driving Fatalities

Texas ranks among the 10 states that have done the least to prevent alcohol-related traffic fatalities. Most personal injury lawyers have known that for a long time, but the National Transportation Safety Board made it official in a report released recently. The Dallas Morning News published a good article on this subject.

This has been a serious problem in Texas for years, but every time a law is proposed to crack down on drunk drivers it meets opposition both from liberal lawmakers concerned about personal privacy and from conservative lawmakers who receive big campaign contributions from the alcohol industry. Maybe the upcoming legislative session will take steps to lessen the problem, but I’m not holding my breath. Here are excerpts from the newspaper article:

The state – which has one of the highest proportions of drunken driving deaths in the country – has implemented only four of the federal agency’s 11 recommendations to eliminate “hard core” drunken driving, which involves drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or greater or repeat offenders within a 10-year period.

“States have been adding those as time has gone by, and Texas is still in the bottom 10,” said Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the agency. “We’d just like to see more progress made.”

“The number of deaths associated with drunk driving is far too high, completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated,” said NTSB member Mark Rosekind. In 2009, 40 percent of all fatal crashes in the state involved a drunk driver, the fifth-highest rate in the country.

Some state lawmakers say DWI laws will be a top priority in the legislative session that begins in January. Legislators have been wrestling for months with how to make DWI laws more effective after a series of high-profile fatalities.

Some advocates have suggested the state lower the limit for legal blood-alcohol levels when driving. Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound , has suggested taking driver’s licenses away for the first DWI offense.

Irving-based Mothers Against Drunk Driving is pushing for sobriety checkpoints. Texas does have four of the NTSB’s recommendations in effect. The NTSB considers adoption of eight of the 11 actions to be an acceptable response.

“When people in the community know that checkpoints are being done, they find another way,” said Jim Fell, a researcher on alcohol and safety for the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. “They either don’t drink as much or take a cab home or get a friend to take them home. So it’s a very effective strategy.”

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

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The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

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