Special to The Dallas Examiner
AUSTIN – Drunk driving deaths increased again last year in Texas, and TxDOT has been urging all Texans to save lives and reverse this trend by choosing a sober ride.
Monse Montoya’s family was destroyed when a drunk driver ran through a stop sign and T-boned her parents’ car. The crash instantly killed her father and her 15-year-old brother. Her mother survived, but she spent a week in the ICU.
The driver of the other car had been drinking with his coworkers before getting behind the wheel, instead of arranging a sober ride. He’s now in prison, while Montoya’s family has been left broken because of his reckless choice.
It’s a tragic but disturbingly common story – 1,162 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in Texas in 2022, a 2% increase from the year before.
That’s equivalent to three people dying every day of the year. TxDOT is sharing stories like Montoya’s as a part of its Faces of Drunk Driving campaign. Through these stories, TxDOT hopes to remind Texans that behind every statistic is a person from our community – a brother or sister, a parent, a neighbor, a friend.
“Numbers can sometimes feel abstract,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “But these are real people whose lives were either lost or forever altered by someone’s decision to drink and drive. We hope that the stories featured in our Faces of Drunk Driving campaign will inspire Texans to always arrange a sober ride home.”
Last year, a staggering 26% of all traffic deaths in Texas involved a drunk driver. Those crashes led to one person dying every 7 hours and 32 minutes.
The Faces of Drunk Driving campaign reminds us that driving under the influence can have serious and often irreparable physical, emotional and financial consequences for survivors and offenders alike. Beyond the all-too-real possibility of taking a life, a DWI/DUI can be expensive and can lead to difficulty finding or keeping a job, loss of trust from loved ones, and a lifetime of regret.
In one featured video, Richie shared his experience after a drunk driving accident, which cost him his vehicle, reputation and set him back financially.
“We were drinking, and I was at a friend’s house,” he recalled. “… I had to go back to school the next day. So we started driving and the road is kind of winding – same road I’ve been driving down since I was 16. And next thing I know, I lost control of the car and I crashed into a house.
“End up going to jail. That was the beginning of it. And then from there you got the backlash from the news. Before I could even get back home, my phone is blowing up … basically like hate mail. ‘How could you?’ ‘So irresponsible.’ I go from thinking that I’m this good guy and everything is working out for me, to all of a sudden, I’m a felon.”
Richie said he was sentenced to 10 days in jail, one year probation, 250 hours of community service and a $30,000 fine for damages.
This year’s campaign will feature events around the state to share stories from Texans who deal every day with the consequences of a drunk driving crash. Events will include an exhibit of powerful video testimonials. Full video stories and other impaired driving information are available at https://www.soberrides.org. TxDOT’s Faces of Drunk Driving campaign is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel to help end the streak of daily deaths. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadw