AUSTIN, Texas —
As people are getting ready to celebrate the holidays with their loved ones, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is reminding people to do so responsibly.
Around the holidays, the state of Texas sees an increase in crashes that are caused by drunken drivers. TxDOT is launching its statewide "Drive Sober, No Regrets" campaign to remind drivers to find a safe ride home.
The campaign is calling for all Texans to make a plan to have a sober driver before leaving for an event, and to not get behind the wheel if they've had too much to drink.
When it comes to drunken driving, a person's life can be changed in an instant. Erin Crawford-Bowers, an Austin resident, lost her parents in a drunken driving crash when she was six months old.
"Every happy memory. Every happy holiday or event that happens there's always a bit of sadness to it," said Crawford-Bowers. "It's never truly a blissful day because you always remember the people who weren't able to be there that day."
Crawford-Bowers began sharing her story to prevent other families from going through what she experienced.
“For example, the day I got married and just wanted my father to walk me down the aisle. That didn't happen. Or the day I had my babies, and you just want your mom by your side, and I didn't get that in life, all because one person made a choice to take that away from me and my family."
According to TxDOT, there were nearly 50,000 crashes in Texas during the holiday season of Dec. 1, 2021, through Jan. 1, 2022. Those crashes claimed more than 400 lives and caused more than 1,600 injuries.
Almost a quarter of the deaths were caused by a DUI, which translates to around 100 people being killed in drunken driving crashes and over 200 people seriously hurt.
TxDOT is sharing stories from people who have been impacted by a drunken driving crash to encourage other drivers to not make the same mistake. One of the stories comes from Richie Griffin, an Austin resident, who drove home drunk as a college freshman and crashed into someone's home.
"And from there, you've got the backlash because it was on the news and before I could even get back home, my phone was blowing up. People's parents, other people, like, how could you, so irresponsible,” Griffin said.
"You go from thinking that I'm this good guy and everything is working out for me to all of a sudden, like, I'm a felon. It's a $30,000 mistake for me. It's something I still think about," stated Griffin.
The department is hoping that people will think twice before getting behind the wheel after hearing stories like his, and stories from victims who have lost loved ones to drunken drivers.
It's important to make a plan to have a sober ride. Either designate a sober driver or use a taxi or ride-share program.