This is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most deadly for vehicle crashes caused by intoxicated drivers. The holiday season began on a heart-breaking note on Thanksgiving morning when a drunk Fort Worth driver crashed her car into a 17-year-old. Benjamin Floran Castaneda, a senior at North Side High School, tragically lost his life. The drunk Fort Worth driver was traveling the wrong way on Loop 820 and crashed into three vehicles. Other drivers were also injured.
It it hard to believe that the woman was driving while intoxicated just so she could go to the Cowboys game to tailgate and drink more — at 5:00 a.m. She was arrested for intoxication manslaughter. We hope she is given a lengthy jail sentence to serve as a deterrent to other people like her.
Benjamin was a fine young man who wanted to go to college so he could devote his life to teaching mariachi music, his passion. He was in the unique mariachi band at North Side High School.
With Christmas and New Year’s parties, bowl and playoff games, and the usual alcohol and drug fueled nights for a lot of people, you can expect our driving while intoxicated rate to climb sharply through the last night of December. Too many people will get too drunk, drive too fast, and run too many red lights.
Local police departments adopt no refusal policies during some of this time. Suspected intoxicated drivers have to submit to a breathalyzer or have blood drawn to calculate if their blood alcohol concentration is higher than .08%. Hopefully, no refusal weekends will curtail these horrible collisions. We think there should be a state-wide no refusal period 24/7.
Texas is always one of the top states for car and truck collision deaths. A whopping 3,639 Texans died in vehicle crashes in 2018 with 464 of those here in Tarrant and Dallas Counties.
As a Fort Worth personal injury law firm that has handled many DWI collision injury cases for the past four decades, we have seen more than our share of vehicular violence. We know how it can destroy lives, cause tremendous pain, and create financial nightmares.
How to be safe this holiday season
Here are a few ways to make sure that you are not involved in a car wreck in North Texas:
Do not drive late at night, especially on weekends, football game days and nights, and of course New Year’s Eve.
Practice defensive driving. Pull off the road and call 911 if you see a drunk driver.
If you plan on drinking while you are out, line up your ride with designated drivers, Uber, or Lyft ahead of time. Or stay in a hotel nearby.
If you are having a party in your house, have nonalcoholic beverages and food available. Don’t let your guests leave if they are inebriated. Call an Uber for them.
Let’s hope that 2020 is the start of the badly needed Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths. Fort Worth just adopted it – right around the time of the tragic loss of Benjamin.
We need to do everything possible to make sure no other Texans lose their lives.