When you hear that DWI arrests have decreased in Dallas, you might be tempted to think that our streets are safer. After all, if fewer people are caught drinking while driving, that must mean efforts to curb impaired driving accidents in Dallas are succeeding.
Unfortunately, the exact opposite might be true. The fact that there are fewer DWI arrests has less to do with increased safety and more to do with a lack of resources.
The president of the Dallas Police Association recently expressed concern about the drop in the number of DWI arrests in the city, according to a February 7 report from Fox 4. Authorities say the decrease is due, in large part, to the reduction of DWI officers rather than an actual decrease in impaired drivers in Dallas.
In fact, the Dallas Police Department is set to increase their efforts to crack down on drunk driving because of these concerns. The DPD has pledged to have 18 dedicated DWI officers patrolling the streets of Dallas. This comes after WFAA broke the news that the number of DWI officers in Dallas had fallen to just one officer.
Between 2009 and 2015, DWI arrests in Dallas declined by more than one-half. Because of a lack of DWI officers, Dallas roads have become much more susceptible to the threat of drunk drivers. But there are also many other factors that contribute to Dallas’ impaired driving problem.
A Reputation For Drunk Driving
It might come as a surprise to some Texans that our state has a less-than-stellar reputation for drunk driving. In 2013, MADD labeled Texas as the worst in the nation in terms of impaired driving. This statewide problem in many ways sets the stage for our city’s own obstacles. There were 45 fatalities and 114 incapacitating injuries in Dallas drunk driving accidents in 2014.
Dallas: A Driving City
Some cities have an infrastructure that necessitates travel by car as opposed to walking or the use of public transportation. With the exception of Uptown and downtown, Dallas has mostly a sprawling infrastructure and lacks a condensed grid street layout, like many other metropolitan areas in the United States have. This means that traveling by car is usually the most convenient method of getting around in Dallas.
Dallas: A Drinking City
Dallas has a vibrant nightlife and many tourist attractions, making it a festive city for both locals and visitors. Dallas neighborhoods like Lower Greenville, Deep Ellum, Bishop Arts, Uptown and the Design District are all heralded for burgeoning food and social scenes.
People come to many neighborhoods in Dallas to have a good time. For some people, that also means consuming alcohol. There is a growing trend of heavy drinking in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. The Dallas Morning News reported in 2015 that between 2005 and 2012, heavy drinking had increased in Dallas.
When you combine Dallas’s sprawling infrastructure with a higher number of heavy-drinkers and a lack of police department resources, we see a clearer picture of why drunk driving is such a major concern in the city.
NBC 5 Investigates singled out one particular area of Dallas for having a high number of alcohol-related crashes. The zip code 75240 had 167 accidents over a two-year period, occurring mostly along Interstate 635 east of the Dallas North Tollway.
Who Is Responsible?
At Guajardo & Marks, we’ve represented many families who have suffered from poor decisions made by drunk drivers. The blame is on the person who chose to get behind the wheel after drinking. However, sometimes an establishment knowingly lets an intoxicated patron drive after serving them drinks. In those situations, that bar or restaurant can also be held partially responsible if the patron later causes a drunk driving accident in Dallas. This is known as a Dram Shop Law.
A Silver Lining in the Drop of Dallas DWI Arrests
One positive contributing factor in the reduction of DWI arrests in Dallas might be the emergence of ride-share services like Uber. These mobile apps make grabbing a ride home from the bar convenient. MADD has encouraged the use of services like Uber and Lyft to deter drinkers from getting behind the wheel.
For all of our concerns about the frequency of DWI accidents in our city, there is reason for hope. We should all do our best to make sure that our friends get home safely after a night out. After all, Dallas is a great city for having a good time, as long as we do so responsibly.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, contact the Dallas drunk driving attorneys at Guajardo & Marks. We’ve helped many families seek compensation for injuries, medical bills, loss of income, property damage and loss of loved ones. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation.