Accidents and driving under the influence (DUI) go hand in hand. In 2015, the Texas Department of Transportation reported over 24,000 DUI related crashes statewide, with nearly 1500 in Houston alone. By the numbers, these crashes had a fatality rate over five times higher than those not involving alcohol. While Texas already has a number of laws dealing with this issue, are they strict enough? How do they compare to other states?

Defining “Strict”

A recent study posed an interesting question: “Which states have taken the toughest line to crack down on DUI?” To answer this, the author compared each state’s DUI laws and asked various legal experts about the penalties associated with impaired driving. Strictness was defined as a weighted combination of 15 different criminal penalty and prevention metrics. Among these metrics are length of jail time, size of minimum fines, impacts of previous DUI incidents, and mandatory use of ignition interlock devices.

Current Penalties

At the moment, Texas laws impose 3- and 30-day minimum jail times for the first and second offense. A third DUI offense is an automatic felony, and any other DUI offenses going as far back as 5 years will factor into these penalties. Additionally, an ignition interlock becomes mandatory for 12 months with the first conviction that involves a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.15.

How Did We Do?

Out of the 50 states, Texas ranked 18th in strictness of its DUI laws (rank 1 being the strictest). Despite that, a report in 2014 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities were highest in Texas (1,446), followed by California (882), and Florida (685). Clearly, drunk driving accidents are still a serious problem here.

For Those Affected

Drunk driving impacts not only the drunk driver, but others as well. Fortunately, those that become a victim of drunk driving have legal recourse even under the current laws. With the help of an attorney, they may be able to pursue compensation and regain a bit of what was lost. Here at the law offices of B.L. Jensen, we help drunk driving crash victims pursue personal injury claims to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other costs.