It’s Time to Rethink Drinking Culture in Texas
While no one wants to bring back Prohibition, we may want to reconsider just how casually we treat alcohol consumption in Texas. Not everyone can or should drink, and our love for partying and tipsy bonding is creating a culture of peer pressure most cannot resist. If someone is drinking to excess, we shouldn’t just assume they have it under control — because they may not.
Alcoholism is a real, dangerous disease that threatens sufferers and those around them in near-equal measure, and yes, drinking and driving really is a bad idea no matter how confident those who do it may feel.
How Texas encourages unsafe drinking practices
The age-old tradition of drinking socially with friends or family was not born here in the Lone Star State, but it is beloved here all the same. There is nothing wrong with this — as long as it’s done safely. As fun as hard drinking can be, it’s no secret it has some less-than-ideal consequences when abused. Yes, those who drink risk hangovers and other health concerns, but their inebriated state also tends to encourage reckless decision-making like trying to scale a building or, of course, getting behind the wheel of a car.
Another dangerous side-effect of our Texan-sized love for casual drinking is how many of our kids are following in our footsteps. We all remember being under 21 and overly-curious about adult beverages. It’s only natural, especially when all the adults around you drink at tailgates, parties, dinners, and any other social situation. When it’s legally forbidden, it’s even more enticing — not to mention the media-and-community-fueled idea of inebriation being fun and adult. No one can blame kids for wanting to try alcohol, but we can blame the adults around them for dangerously encouraging its consumption.
Here in Texas, you can legally buy your child a drink as long as you supervise them drinking it. While there’s nothing wrong with safety satiating a 16-year-old’s curiosity on the taste of beer, indulging them too often and neglecting to discuss the dangers and risks associated with alcohol use can only hurt them and those around them. For example, excessive alcohol use is responsible for one-fourth of the deaths among adults aged 20-34.
It isn’t only the fault of parents and guardians, though. Kids drink for the same reasons adults drink: to feel better. When they drink, they aren’t stressed, they typically have a good time, and they’re too young to really suffer through hangovers. Not only that, but they also bond with those around them, and probably more easily than they would have sober. Declining alcoholic beverages can actually get you ostracized and criticized in many social circles. No wonder some teens turn drinking into a habit.
Some of us are already helping society change for the better, though. A recovering alcoholic opened up an alcohol-free bar in Austin, meant to offer a social space for adults without the pressure of having to drink. It took off immediately. More spaces like that alongside widespread education and addiction resources save more lives and lessen more alcohol abuse than Prohibition ever did. If you let your child drink with you, make sure they know never to drive under the influence, how to safely find their limits, where to get help if they need it, and — perhaps most importantly — they never NEED to drink.
DWIs, DUIs, and DUIAs should be taken seriously
There is no getting around just how dangerous it is to drive while under the influence of any substance, drugs or alcohol. There is also no getting around the fact that it is, in the end, a choice someone makes. Whether they do it because they underestimate the dangers, the consequences, or their own level of inebriation, they’re threatening their own lives and those around them.
Unfortunately, Texas sees a higher rate of drunk driving than others, and the number keeps going up. In 2021, one person was killed in an alcohol-related accident every eight and a half hours in our state alone. That adds up to over a thousand deaths, and over two thousand serious injuries. Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have led the fight throughout the country for stricter laws and consequences, but a person still dies in a drunk-driving accident every 52 minutes nationwide (though things did get a little better after stricter laws were set into place).
It is just all too easy to underestimate the consequences of something when you haven’t experienced them. The average drunk driver has done it dozens of times by the time they’re arrested. When you are dependent on a substance and don’t fully understand the consequences of your actions, reckless behavior is guaranteed to follow, and this sort of recklessness can land you in serious legal trouble if you survive.
Even a first offense DWI can cost you thousands in fines, time behind bars, and a year-long suspension of your license. Any and every subsequent offense — and any mitigating factors like minors in the vehicle — only compounds your charges. Once it’s your third offense, the charges go from misdemeanor to felony and you can spend two years in jail and $10,000 in fines, alongside losing your license and other collateral consequences.
Minors are not exempt from facing serious legal charges that can follow them for a lifetime. Depending on their age and their level of intoxication, they could still have to pay hundreds or thousands in fines and face jail time. It is true that the justice system goes a little easier on minors, but they still need a rigorous defense to keep their freedom and reputation safe.
Seeking help for alcohol dependance in Copperas Cove
No one can overcome addiction alone. It is a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek the help you need to become a healthier, happier person. If you or a loved one suffer from alcoholism or fear you may be heading in that direction, there are a multitude of resources and treatments to take advantage of:
Each site is specifically dedicated to helping people like you, and each site lists multiple rehabilitation centers, treatment facilities, and more right here in Copperas Cove. If you’ve been charged with a DWI, regardless of whether or not you were truly under the influence, trust the Copperas Cove criminal defense attorneys at Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm. We proudly serve clients and families throughout Coryell, McLennan, and Bell Counties, and in Temple, Waco, Harker Heights, Killeen, and Belton. To find out more and get started, call us today or use our contact form.
I’ve dedicated my legal career to defending my clients. I demand all the evidence. I investigate all the facts, the so-called witnesses and even the police officers. I make it my business to know the law. Cases can be won or lost before you even set foot inside the courtroom.
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