In College Station, Texas, driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrests have substantially decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, as much as 25%. Police have theorized that the reduction—both arrests and DWI-related accidents—may be because there are fewer people in town at the moment. Is this a predictor of a lower rate of DWIs for other areas of Texas, including Houston? Unfortunately, no.
Houston is not seeing a meaningful decline in DWIs. Through August, the City of Houston only had a 5% reduction in DWI arrests. Harris County had 16% fewer DWI arrests than this same time in 2019. However, in 2019, the county's DWI arrests increased by an astonishing 2,000% from the previous year. That means that a slight dip isn't nearly enough: 2020 is on track for another record number of Harris County DWIs.
At this point, College Station will likely see an uneven trend in DWIs through the remainder of the year. For example, Texas A&M students returned to campus—that could increase area alcohol use during the Fall. But DWIs may decline, since a recent post-Halloween spike in COVID-19 cases has meant that the university is announcing new restrictions on campus social events, and at least one football game has been delayed.
In Houston, it's possible that fewer people will be out for the holidays, and that could affect a common end-of-the-year jump in arrests. But all-in-all, unless the state or city issue much more strict COVID-limitations on commercial activity, it seems unlikely that COVID will substantially impact the number of DWIs for the remainder of the year.
The bottom line: Houston police are always some of the most aggressive in the country. Don't think that COVID has changed that. On the contrary, officers may be frustrated that people have not scaled back social activities and thus may even be quicker to pull someone over.
Houston attorney Doug Murphy is one of only two attorneys in the state of Texas who is Board Certified in both Criminal Law and DWI Defense. Previously having served as President of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, he is a national expert on DWI litigation, and, year-after-year, he is heralded as being one of US News & World Report's Best Lawyers in America.
If you are facing charges involving a DWI accident in Texas, contact Doug Murphy’s office today to discuss your case and begin working on your defense.