DWI numbers rising quickly as Houston reopens

Miya Shay Image
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
DWI cases went up after bars and restaurants opened
DWI cases went up after bars and restaurants opened.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After a 50 percent drop in the number of DWIs during the COVID-19 lockdown, Harris County drivers are returning to their old habits, and not in a good way.

The number of drivers charged with DWI are quickly catching back up to 2019 statistics.

According to the Harris County District Attorney's Office, there were 278 people charged with DWI from Friday, May 22 to the end of the Memorial Holiday weekend compared to 321 charges for the same long weekend last year.,

"As things began to open up and restrictions ease, you saw a gradual increase (in DWIs)," said Sean Teare, head of the Vehicular Crimes Division of the Harris County DA's Office. "We're in the middle of a pandemic, we have bars and restaurants open at 25 percent capacity, and we see no drops as in years past. My concern is as we open up, you're going to see more people try to make up for lost time, so to speak."

RELATED: DWI suspect on parole involved in crash that kills two.

Teare points to two particularly tragic DWIs over the holiday weekend. In one case near Beechnut and Highway 6 on Sunday night, a seven-year-old child was injured. Another case happened Monday night to early this morning, when a suspected DWI driver led deputies on a chase, and killed two innocent bystanders.

ABC13 obtained DWI data covering the weeks before the lockdown on March 17 to this past weekend. We then compared it to the same data from the same period in 2019. There was a significant decline in DWI charges in the weeks immediately following the COVID-19 lockdown. But, as the lockdown eased, the numbers quickly rose.

"There's a percentage of the population that's going to do this, regardless of the pandemic." said Teare.

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