Small-town Burleson, Texas, recently made national headlines when 16-year-old Ethan Couch managed to avoid jail time after killing four people in a drunk driving accident this past summer on Burleson Retta Road. Judge Jean Boyd sentenced Couch to 10 years probation after a clinical psychologist testified that the teen suffered from “affluenza,” a condition that causes privileged teenagers to believe there are no consequences for their actions.
Many people feel that Couch’s sentence is far too lenient, but regardless of your opinion on the case, the fact remains that four people died as a result of someone’s negligent behavior behind the wheel. And incidents like this one happen all too often. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were nearly 1,100 DUI fatalities and nearly 9,500 serious DUI injuries in the state in 2012.
Drinking and driving is especially prevalent during the holidays, when alcohol abounds at parties and family get-togethers. This year, in light of this increased likelihood of inebriated drivers hitting the roads, Tarrant County has instituted a “no refusal” policy, which began on Christmas Eve and will continue through New Year’s. “No refusal” means that if a driver refuses to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test, a warrant will be obtained so that he or she will be forced to consent. Judges will be on call to issue the warrants, and the county has hired nurses to draw blood.
What does this mean for you? Most important, it means that (as always) if you’ve had anything to drink, you need to stay off the roads. And it also means that if you’ve been celebrating responsibly and can drive yourself home at the end of the night, the roads will be much safer for you.
The City of Arlington in particular is fully on board with Tarrant County’s “no refusal” policy. The Star-Telegram recently reported that 65% of Arlington’s traffic fatalities can be linked to drugs and alcohol, which is much higher than the state’s average of 40%. That’s why the Arlington Police Department has enacted new initiatives, like “no refusal” periods, to crack down on drunk driving.
If you plan on celebrating with a few libations this New Year’s, remember these sobering statistics (compiled by MADD):
- The average person metabolizes alcohol at the rate of about one drink per hour.
- Impairment is not determined by the type of drink, but by the amount of alcohol consumed over time.
- Drunk driving involvement in fatal crashes in 2011 was 4.5 times higher at night than during the day (36% versus 8%).
- In 2011, 226 children were killed in drunk driving crashes. Of those, 122 (54%) were riding with the drunk driver.
And if you’re ever in an accident and believe the other driver is inebriated, be sure to do the following:
- Immediately call 911.
- If you are physically able to, jot down the make, model, and license plate number of the vehicle.
- Get the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident.
- If you are able to, take pictures.
- As soon as you can, write down everything you can remember about the accident.
- Contact an attorney.
The Farah Law Firm wishes you a safe and happy New Year!
If you or a loved one have been involved in a drunk driving accident, contact our office today. Our accident attorneys will help you get the justice you deserve.