Threats of DWIs Imposing On Students

Photo taken from video below.

With the threat of getting a DWI looming over them, some Texas Tech students, like Zach Hummel, have an increasing concern about driving drunk.

Hummel, a senior psychology major at Texas Tech from Plano, Texas, said he thinks about the possibility of getting pulled over after having a couple of drinks.

“Yeah I think about it but I try to be cautious when I drive home,” Hummel said about driving drunk. “Luckily I have GPS in my car so I am able to map out a way home.”

Stephen Hamilton, a lawyer in Lubbock, Texas, said he thinks the group of drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 produces the most DWI’s, but is not sure if a university factors in.

“Obviously with a university you’re going to have more young people, so that will probably push up the number of people that are arrested for driving while intoxicated,” Hamilton said. “I think if you went to the metroplex or you went to another town that had 250,000 people in it you would probably see the same breakdown, at least percentage wise, that you would see in Lubbock.”

According to information provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety from a Texas Public Information Act request, there were 1,128 reported DWI’s in Lubbock County in 2010. This amounted to 405 DWIs per 100,000 people in Lubbock County, which is higher than counties such as Harris, Dallas, and Tarrant.

DWI statistics from 2010

Sergeant Jonathan Stewart, of the Lubbock Police Department, said those figures might not reflect the real statistics.

“Just because the arrest numbers may be higher here does not necessarily mean that there are more,” Stewart said, “just that we are catching more.”

According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles website, a first offense for a driver who is 21 and over carries penalties of a fine up to $2,000, possibly 72 hours to 180 days in jail, and suspension of the person’s drivers license for 90 days up to one year.

Troy Finley, a senior biochemistry major at Texas Tech from Houston, Texas, said he thinks a university can influence DWIs among people between the ages of 18 and 24.

“Kids are just leaving home and are by themselves and they don’t have anybody watching over them,” Finley said, “so they feel that they can do whatever they want and go drink, and who’s going to tell them to do anything?”
Hamilton said it is rare for a DWI case to go to trial in Lubbock County.

“A lot of cases are resolved one way or another without going to a trial,” Hamilton said. “I would think less than ten percent of all cases in Lubbock County go to trial.”

Steven Pence, a senior marketing major at Texas Tech from Plano, Texas, said he prefers to drive, but does not rule out calling a cab.

“I never let myself get to a point where I cannot drive,” Pence said, “but if I do then I typically will call a friend or call a cab.”

Hummel said he has considered calling the Texas Tech safe ride, but has reservations about it.

“I’ve thought about it,” Hummel said, “but I’ve heard they can take a long time to actually come pick somebody up.”

Texas Department of Public Safety Information Request

Finley said he usually has a plan when he goes out.

“Typically me and my friends take turns as the designated driver,” Finley said, “so luckily we always have some way to get home.”

According to the Texas Department of Transportation website, there were 293 fatal crashes involving alcohol in 2011 affecting drivers who are 25 or younger.

Pence said a recent fatal accident in Lubbock involving Texas Tech students has made him nervous to drive on “party” nights.

“The fact that people are out there drinking and driving recklessly, even though I’m not, puts me at a level of unease,” Pence said.

Hummel said he thinks there are more DWI’s in Lubbock involving young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 because of the sheer number in Lubbock.

“I think the number of DWI’s among college kids is higher in Lubbock than in Dallas because there are over 30,000 college kids here,” Hummel said. “I’d bet more than half of those kids drink while they are here for school.”

Information provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety

According to the 2010 Census, there are 47,158 people between the ages of 18 and 24 in Lubbock County, which amounts to 17 percent of the total population. That is more than the percentage of 18 to 24 year olds in Dallas County, which is 9.9 percent.

Finley said he recently saw two kids getting arrested for a possible DWI.

“I was at a friend’s house the other day and I saw a police officer pull two kids over,” Finley said. “He administered a sobriety test to the driver and eventually arrested both of the kids. It was crazy.”

Pence said he is always aware of his surroundings when he drives after he has had a couple of drinks.

“I am always aware of what is going around me when I drive after I have been drinking,” Pence said.

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