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San Antonio holds the top spot for drunk driving per capita among Texas metro areas

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Do not drink and drive! Cropped image of drunk man talking car keys
Ilya Burdun/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Do not drink and drive! Cropped image of drunk man talking car keys

According to data sourced by the San Antonio Express News, San Antonio had the highest rate of drunk driving crashes per capita among large Texas cities in 2021.

In an investigation the Express-News looked into the reason for the city’s high numbers of impaired motor incidents, and found a culture of leniency toward some first-time offenders.

What they found was a 2008 policy called “Take Responsibility” created by then Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed. The Take Responsibility policy allows those who qualify the chance to escape a DWI conviction on their record by pleading guilty to a lesser misdemeanor with time served on probation. The policy was created to prevent first-time offenders who did not cause a crash, and whose blood alcohol concentration was under .15 the chance to avoid the stigma of a DWI conviction. Some research has suggested that most first-time offenders learn from the arrest and prosecution.

Many believe the Take Responsibility policy has created repeat offenders that have led to a number of crashes, injuries and lives lost. After the Express-News investigation was published, the district attorney’s office has agreed to reexamine the policy.

Every hour one person in the United States dies due to an alcohol-impaired driver.

Has San Antonio’s lax DWI convictions lead to repeat offenses? Is impaired driving a systemic problem within the city?

What can be done to mitigate the amount of DWIs in San Antonio? Does leniency toward intoxicated drivers hurt more than it helps?


  • Brian Chasnoff, communications director at Mauro Archer Law Firm, former investigative reporter for the San Antonio Express-News 
  • Libby Seline, data visualization reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle

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*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, December 21.

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