Austin’s Drunk Driving Crashes at an All-Time High

Central Texas is earning a dubious reputation for the highest number of drunken driving collisions in the state, if not in the nation. Austin police revealed that in 2012, 33 people died as a result of crashes involving impaired drivers. In 2013, 33 died in the first three months of the year alone. The final 2013 year-end death toll is to be released this month, and based on the increases already seen in 2013, the death toll in 2014 is expected to run even higher.

Austin and the state of Texas both offer a wide variety of programs and initiatives that promote sober driving. Home for the Holiday and Arrive Alive programs have been established, and the area’s high-visibility enforcement does not allow refusals for assessment. And yet, the numbers of those killed in crashes involving a drunk driver continue to escalate.

In another attempt to counteract the trend, some are pushing for checkpoints in the state. Recent research demonstrates that DUI checkpoints can lead to a 20 percent drop in drunk driving accidents that lead to serious injuries and death. However, Texas is one of 12 states in the nation that does not currently allow checkpoints, so the law would need to be amended to initiate their use. Civil rights proponents suggest that checkpoints could open the door for abuse by police. But as the death rate continues to rise, drunk-driving crash survivors have answered, asking to refocus that concern onto victims. Drinking and driving is illegal and negligent, not to mention deadly.

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