Austin Police Chief Recognizes Austin’s Drunk Driving Problem

Austin has had a rash of drunk driving injuries in the last several months, including the huge SXSW wreck.

After Kelly Noel, a local popular blogger, was killed by a drunk driver this weekend, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is calling for a summit on drunk driving issues.  The article noted that fifty-five percent of Austin’s traffic fatalities this year involved drivers who were impaired by alcohol or drugs.

I don’t know whether a summit is the answer.  But I am encouraged by the discussion. Like alcoholism, recognizing you have a problem might be the first step in treating it.

Unfortunately, this larger problem only reflects what we’re seeing in our firm.  Over the last couple of years, we have been helping more and more clients who are being seriously injured by drunk drivers.  And while most of these cases have been late night wrecks, it seems there are more and more happening during the day.

This might be better for another article, but if you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, and you’re looking for a lawyer to help, make sure the lawyer has ample experience in representing victims of DWI or DUI.  Most lawyers treat these as run of the mill car wreck cases.  But they aren’t.  There are a number of important steps and tactics that good attorneys utilize to help increase the value of your case.  Make sure you have a lawyer who can adequately represent you and your interests.

IH 35 Wrong Way Driver Kills A San Antonio Police Officer

If you’ve read this blog at all, you know that we closely follow stories about wrong way drivers because this is a phenomenon that seems like it should never happen, and yet it’s becoming routine.

This morning, a San Antonio police officer, Officer Stephanie Brown, was tragically killed along I35 when a wrong way driver slammed his SUV into her patrol car.   

This wreck fits the pattern of most wrong way driver incidents — the wreck happened early in the morning and the wrong way driver was potentially drunk.  Most of these wrong way driving cases are late night accidents involving drunk drivers or are caused by elderly drivers.

This case is an example of one of my biggest concerns about these kinds of wrecks — there’s almost nothing you can do to avoid being in a wreck with a wrong way driver.  And here, the victim was a police officer, someone who likely had special training to avoid auto accidents, and she couldn’t avoid this tragic situation.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Brown and her family and friends, but sadly, Officer Brown won’t be the last victim of a wrong way collision.  As more and more complex highways and interstate interchanges are being built in the Central Texas area, stories about wrong way drivers are becoming more and more prevalent. 

Some of my previous posts on wrong way drivers are: 

Are The Risks Of A High Speed Police Chase Acceptable?

Earlier this week, Eliot Alfred Carvajal, was allegedly driving drunk and led Austin Police Department officers on a police chase (with speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour) that started in North Austin on I35 and ended in a fatal collision in South Austin near Brodie Lane.  As the car neared Brodie, Carvajal lost control of the vehicle and wrecked.   One  unindentified passenger in the car was killed, and two others were seriously injured. 

Earlier this month, a Fayette County police chase also ended in a fatality when the driver of the car apparently shot himself while driving. 

While neither of these resulted in collateral damage — injury to those uninvolved in the chase — they do raise the question about whether these type of risks are acceptable.  Do we want innocent people — kids, soccer moms, teachers, etc — put at risk by law enforcement officials engaging in high speed chases?  For example, last September, an innocent Austinite was killed in a police chase after the SUV the police were chasing hit him head on.   Later that month, an innocent pedestrian was seriously injured following another chase.

Sadly, Austin isn’t unique.  Ironically, USA Today ran a feature story just a few days ago detailing the risk of high-speed chase policies.  Their study found that one-third of those killed in high speed police chases are innocent bystanders, and those numbers may be underreported because there is no mandatory reporting system for deaths in pursuit cases.  As a result of these injuries, police departments and governmental agencies across the country are looking at modifying policies relating to police chases. 

But where does that leave us?  Do we continue to have a number of Central Texas high-speed chases?  Do we ask law enforcement to consider using safer alternatives?  Do we draw the line and say “no high speed chases”? Or do we say, “we’re Texas, and we’re catching the criminal regardless of the cost?” 

Only time will tell.

Don’t Drink And Drive Following Your Game-Watching Party

Saturday afternoon, my family attended the funeral of my great-aunt.  After the funeral, some of the family members and guests were to attend the burial north of Austin.  Normally, funeral processions go without incident.  But not this one.  As the family’s limousine was passing through an intersection, a drunk driver ran a red light, hit the family’s limousine and then hit one of the motorcycle officers who was stopped directing traffic.  Several members of my family were hurt, and the officer’s leg was broken.

I suspect that it was not a coincidence that the wreck happened shortly after the conclusion of the University of Texas – Oklahoma football game.   I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing the guy had enjoyed a few alcoholic beverages during the game and was happy to leave the party after a Longhorn win.

Don’t let yourself be that guy.  As an avid Texas sports fan, I’m not opposed to getting together and watching sports and having a beverage or two.  But, think before you do something stupid like drinking and driving.  You never know when you’re going to ruin someone’s day, or worse, their life.

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More Studies Confirm Texting While Driving Is Worse Than Driving Drunk

I’m sorry for the lack of posts. The entire month has been nuts. Just this week, I have had to file two summary judgment responses, and I’m spending today finalizing some discovery.

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know that we have somehow become a resource for information on texting while driving. Earlier this week, the Today Show had a great feature on the dangers of texting while driving. If you care about the dangers or if you have teenagers, you need to watch the video and make them watch the video.

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Related links from our site:

* Text messaging (and twittering) while driving
* Text messaging while driving? Maybe not in Austin
* Car Wrecks – Text Messaging While Driving
* Text Messaging: New Car Wreck Danger

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Text Messaging (And Twittering) While Driving

text messaging while drivingRegular readers of our blog probably know that some of our most popular posts on the site are posts about text messaging while driving.  As a result, early last year, I put together a resource page that gathered several article and studies on texting while driving.  Since that time, there have been numerous developments in the texting while driving saga, including several states passing legislation to ban the practice and the new phenomenon of twittering while driving.

This week’s release of a vidoe showing a San Antonio bus driver slamming into parked cars because he was texting while driving seems to be a good nudge to provide an update to the resource page.  As a result, I’m posting several new stories below, led, of course, by the video of the San Antonio driver.  In the next few weeks, I’m going to try and have a page with states that have passed legislation on texting while driving so I’ll save those stories for that later post.

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  • RAC FOUNDATION STUDY — Texting While Driving Is Worse Than Drunk Driving — A Study Based On Automobile Simulators


Austin Drunk Driving News

It’s not directly related to personal injury litigation, but a little history was made yesterday when a Travis County jury convicted a drunk driver of murder for killing someone in a car wreck.  This was the first murder conviction in Travis County for a drunk driver.  The story from the Austin American Statesman is here.

For additional information on personal injury claims, please check out our “Austin Personal Injury Lawyers” page.

To contact Austin Personal Injury Lawyer, Austin Personal Attorney, Austin Accident Lawyer, Austin Injury Lawyer Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC or to learn more about Austin Personal Injury visit

Schuelke Law maintains offices in Austin, Texas. However, our attorneys and lawyers represent clients throughout the state of Texas, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Forth Worth, El Paso, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Round Rock, Georgetown, Lockhart, Bastrop, Elgin, Manor, Brenham, Cedar Park, Burnet, Marble Falls, Temple and Killeen. By Brooks Schuelke

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