Tarrant County is well known for a number of attractions, including the Texas Rangers baseball games, Fort Worth Zoo, Amon Carter Museum and the Kimbell Art Museum. Unfortunately it is also known for a huge increase in DWI cases, right alongside the state of Texas.
Nationally, 1.7% of Americans have self-reported drunk driving in the last month, but in Texas, we always have to do things bigger and better–2.2% have self-reported driving while impaired by alcohol in the last 30 days. That is a full half percentage point higher than the rest of the country. Tarrant County DWI crashes in 2019 totaled 1,534.
There is no shortage of laws against driving while intoxicated in Texas, however that does not seem to help the number of arrests. Here is a basic rundown of Texas DWI rules:
- Driving with a blood alcohol content above 0.8% will get you arrested
- Ignition interlocks are required for all convicted DWI offenders, including first-timers
- Sobriety checkpoints are not allowed to be publicized
- You can research up-to-date laws on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website.
The Implementation of No Refusal Weekends
In October 2020, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office proclaimed that every weekend is now a No Refusal weekend, meaning that if anyone is stopped because of suspicion of driving under the influence, they can not refuse to take a field sobriety test or breathalyzer. Previously, only special weekends have been designated No Refusal weekends, including the Super Bowl, Labor Day, and New Year’s Eve.
For some unfortunate families of fatal accident victims, this legislation did not come soon enough. Texas was number one in the country for or fatalities caused by drunk drivers in 2020. The loss of life totalled 886 in that year. Even one death is one too many. But still, more than 6,000 drunk driving charges were filed in Tarrant County in 2019.
Texans are known for being warm and welcoming, and residents drink and party to the tune of between one and four alcoholic drinks per week for 48% of the population, a whopping 12% of Texans self-reported drinking up to eight alcoholic drinks per week, while over 10% drink as much as 16 alcoholic beverages per week. The population of the entire state is about 28.7 million, which means that more than 21 million alcoholic drinks are regularly consumed each week in the state.
Drive Drunk, Get Arrested
Law enforcement is cracking down. In addition to No Refusal weekends and a lack of publicity for checkpoints, technology is being used to catch drunk drivers. New systems detect a driver’s blood alcohol content using an infrared light that can scan fingertips from steering wheels or push button ignitions. When the driver’s BAC is considered too high, the car simply will not start.
At least two U.S. senators are advocating that this feature be installed in all newly manufactured cars. If it is signed into law, the bill would require the technology to be in all motor vehicles by the year 2024.
Under current Texas law, the first two incidents of drunk driving are usually prosecuted as a misdemeanor, but the third offense is a felony. That means you can spend a lot of time behind bars, pay hefty fines and excruciatingly high insurance premiums.
Crackdowns will inevitably lead to many more arrests. That’s when a DWI lawyer in Tarrant County is here to help. The new stringent regulations are understandable, so be careful out there! But remember you can protect yourself from wrongful accusations of drunk driving by hiring an experienced attorney.