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Drunk driving accident rates raise concern in Texas

The drunk driving fatality rate in Texas has consistently been the highest in the nation. Victims whose relatives have suffered injury or death in area drunk driving accidents say that something has to change to protect vulnerable local residents. East Texas is one of the trouble spots in the nation; Gregg County had the most fatal DWI fatalities in 2012, with 13 victims perishing from others' negligence. Although drunk driving has dropped by 24 percent nationwide since 2007, drunk driving fatalities in Texas have risen by 6 percent in the same time period.

One woman in Tyler described her experience with a negligent drunk driver. Her husband was killed in a wreck on Loop 281 in March 2013, when an intoxicated driver struck his vehicle while driving the wrong way. Subsequent tests of that driver's blood alcohol content showed that the 45-year-old woman had twice the legal limit of alcohol in his body. The victim, age 23, burned to death in his vehicle. Although the drunk driver perished upon impact, the victim suffered considerably.

Advocates in the area say that such preventable accidents continue to disrupt the region. Representatives from organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving assert that tougher penalties for intoxicated drivers may help lower the rate of wrong-way crashes and other similarly fatal accidents. A shocking 40 percent of traffic deaths in Texas are attributable to intoxicated drivers. That is 9 percent higher than the national average, according to news reports.

Victims who have suffered the loss of a loved one because of a negligent drunk driver may be entitled to financial damages. A Texas attorney may be able to provide additional information about legal rights and options. Compensation may be obtained for medical costs, pain and suffering, funeral expenses and a variety of other civil claims.

Source: News-Journal, "Area DWI fatalities rank high" Sarah Thomas, Feb. 24, 2014

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