Prosecutors in Southeast Texas handle a lot of drunk driving cases this time of year. They say it’s because of the rodeo, spring break, and St. Patrick’s Day.
“So basically, it’s a perfect storm for DWI crimes.”
That’s Montgomery County DWI prosecutor Warren Diepraam.
“Around our entire region we see an approximate 20 percent increase in DWIs and the crashes and fatalities related to DWI.”
And what has Diepraam concerned is that some of the cases involve underage drivers who got alcohol from an adult, or as he calls it, the “cool parents,” the people who think it’s okay to let kids drink as long as they’re at someone’s home.
In November and December there were five teen DWI fatalities in Montgomery County. Diepraam says they’re now going after the people who allegedly provided the alcohol.
And they’re getting a lot of help from social media.
“That has been a boon to prosecutors in all of these cases. Our standard practice has been to look at what people are posting on social media. Because we know that if people are out there drinking, they’re taking pictures of themselves with alcoholic beverages and also the people who are serving them.”
Diepraam says anyone who provides alcohol to a minor could face misdemeanor charges that carry up to a year in jail.
If someone gets killed in a wreck, those charges could be bumped up to a felony. There are also possible civil liabilities.