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Texas DOT launches holiday drunk driving campaign

Alcohol impairment was a factor in about a quarter of the road deaths in Texas during the 2016 holiday season, and the state's Department of Transportation has launched a campaign designed to draw attention to the dangers of getting behind the wheel after drinking as part of an effort to reduce the annual holiday death toll. The 'Plan While You Can" initiative features interactive games that remind participants how alcohol consumption affects reaction times and advice for those attending parties and functions.

The public awareness campaign will visit eight cities in Texas during December. Those attending the events will be able to play an interactive game that involves dodging objects on a large video screen. Playing is relatively straightforward at first, but dodging the objects becomes progressively more difficult as virtual drinks are added and reaction times are compromised. The game is designed to show players how seriously their ability to respond to emergencies is affected by even a few drinks.

According to official figures, alcohol consumption was a factor in 2,321 accidents in Texas during the 2016 holiday season. These crashes claimed the lives of 82 road users in and left a further 199 seriously injured. In addition to averting possible tragedies, Texas residents can avoid losing their driving privileges, possible jail time and fines of up to $17,000 by using ride-hailing services, choosing designated drivers or taking public transportation to get home after drinking.

The penalties for getting behind the wheel after drinking or taking narcotics can be severe in Texas, but proving DUI or drug charges beyond any reasonable doubt is sometimes difficult for prosecutors. Drunk driving cases often hinge on the results of toxicology tests, which may be challenged by experienced criminal defense attorneys in certain situations. Attorneys may also seek to have impaired driving charges reduced or dismissed when police officers may have acted without probable cause or violated rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

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