The top prosecutor in Tarrant County, Assistant District Attorney, Richard Alpert, who I just met with yesterday on a case involving a drunk driver who crashed into my client and seriously injured him, is the subject of an interest article in today’s paper.
The Dallas Morning News reported today that Mr. Alpert wants our state lawmakers to change our state law. He wants the hordes of first-time offenders to have the choice of deferred adjudication if they agree to counseling. This will keep a public conviction off their records, keep them out of jail, and give them an incentive to take a plea instead of going to trial — and hopefully save lives.
Under the plan, if drivers get caught a second time, their first offense would still be used to increase punishment.
I applaud Mr. Alpert’s decision and his hard work in combatting this epidemic, but can’t believe how cavalier drivers are about getting drunk and driving drunk — and crashing into innocent victims. The problem is rampant: there are 123,000 DWI cases pending statewide, some are so old they may have to be dismissed. Criminal defense lawyers are getting rich plea bargaining habitual drunk drivers cases out, since our courts and jails can’t handle the overload.
Mr. Alpert reported that Tarrant County has already had 118 trials this year just due to DWI’s — and it’s only August. Did you know that we have 17 prosecutors who do nothing but handle these cases, and that up to 80% of our county’s criminal docket is drowning in DWI prosecutions? What does that cost us taxpayers, let alone the carnage the drunk drivers cause on our highways?
Texas is #1 in one of the worst vehicle categories: highest number of alcohol-related fatalities. There is one liquor-induced crash every 20 seconds just in our state that shouldn’t happen. Last year, 1,170 individuals died from alcohol related collisions. These numbers are staggering. Thousands of individuals and families are struggling through severe injuries or face the death of a loved one due to drunk driving.This loss is beyond compare.
By law, a driver who drives while intoxicated has violated the standard of care and is negligent per se. Negligence is found when it is determined that an individual had a duty, they failed to uphold that duty and an accident was the direct result. When this happens, families and individuals are able to file a lawusit and be compensated for their medical bills,pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages past and future. And if, God forbid, someone dies at the hands of an intoxicated driver, a wrongful death lawsuit can and should be filed.
Drinking and driving in Texas is a catastrophic problem. If drunk driving is suspected as the cause of an accident, injured parties should consult an experienced personal injury attorney and consider their oegal options.