The Texas Stay-at-Home Order Seems to Have Reduced the Number of Houston Drunk Driving Accidents

May 26, 2020

As a result of the dangers presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Abbott signed an executive order requiring the closure of schools and many non-essential businesses and government operations. While this has been a major disruption in the lives of many Texans, one tangential benefit that seems to have come from the stay-at-home order is that the number of Houston drunk driving accidents seems to have decreased.

Houston has a drunk driving problem. According to a study conducted by the Houston Chronicle, Harris County had the second-highest rate of DUI accidents out of any county in the nation. Indeed, between 2013 and 2017, 24 people were killed in Harris County drunk driving accidents. Approximately 38 percent of these accidents occurred over the Fourth of July weekends.

According to the Texas Crash Records Information System, there were 110 accidents involving a drunk driver between March 1 and May 7, 2020. This is roughly the period during which the Texas stay-at-home order was in effect. Interestingly, during that same period in 2019, there were 280 crashes. Thus, the stay-at-home order reduced the total number of Texas DUI accidents by about 60 percent.

Drunk driving is illegal, and those who engage in this dangerous behavior can be criminally prosecuted. However, a criminal prosecution does little to help those injured in a Texas drunk driving accident, and accident victims do not have control over whether a criminal case is brought and how it is resolved.

Those involved in a Texas DUI accident can, however, pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. To successfully bring a Texas personal injury claim, an accident victim must show that the defendant:

  1. owed the victim a duty of car;
  2. violated the duty that was owed to the victim;
  3. that the defendant’s breach of that duty resulted in the accident victim’s injuries; and
  4. that the accident victim suffered a legally cognizable injury.

When dealing with a Texas DUI accident, the first, second and fourth element are often easily met. However, at-fault drivers and their insurance companies often try to shift the blame for an accident onto the victim by claiming that the victim was negligent. This can have the effect of reducing a victim’s recovery amount or even precluding recovery altogether. Thus, it is crucial for accident victims to work with a dedicated Texas personal injury attorney who has experience handling these claims.