Prior to the holiday season, police in Austin spread the word about two enforcement campaigns aimed at stopping drunk and distracted driving. As of Dec. 30, the anti-drunk driving campaign — called “No Refusal” — had resulted in 127 DWI arrests, while the “Home for the Holidays” initiative increased police patrols and focused more generally on dangerous driving, including distracted driving.

Since Austin became a hands-free city in 2015, police have issued more than 5,000 tickets to drivers for using handheld devices while behind the wheel, and police are well aware of the yearly spike in DWI accidents during the holidays. Still, the problems of drunk driving and distracted driving remain.

Not every driver in Austin is clear on what the city’s distracted-driving ordinance means.

One man recently cited for distracted driving in Austin said that he was using his phone’s speaker function when he was pulled over. He was under the impression, he said, that holding the phone in his hand was permitted as long as he didn’t hold the phone up to his ear.

The truth, though, is that drivers are prohibited from holding and using any kind of electronic device while driving, even if it’s a speakerphone.

According to data from the Austin Police Department, 63 percent of fatal accidents in 2015 involved impaired drivers or drivers suspected of being impaired.

As is the case with distracted driving, stopping drunk driving requires ongoing education and police enforcement. There may be a plenitude of statistics indicating the devastating consequences of distracted and impaired driving, but the reality is that drivers continue to put their own lives and the lives of others at risk.

If you have been injured by a drunk or distracted driver in Austin, then don’t hesitate to speak with a local attorney about your situation. You may be entitled to significantly more compensation than the insurance company offers. After all, insurance companies are businesses mostly concerned with boosting profits and reducing or denying claims. Victims of car accidents need someone on their side to level the playing field.

Please see The Levine Law Firm’s Motor Vehicle Accident overview to learn more.