SAN ANTONIO – Although bars were closed for most of 2020 and the pandemic kept many people home, DWI cases did not drop as expected in Bexar County.
The pandemic shutdown did not slow down the need for services for victims of drunk drivers, said Azeza Salama, volunteer resource specialist for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, South Central Texas.
“I think our biggest concern was that we were still having the fatalities regardless of being in pre-pandemic or pandemic. We were still seeing crashes. We were still seeing arrests,” Salama said.
Early on in the pandemic, she says everyone was optimistic that there would be fewer victims of DWI crashes.
“Going into quarantine around mid-March, I was thinking to myself, ‘OK, well, we’re going to see the numbers drop.’ And they did to a certain degree but not to where they should have been,” Salama said.
According to statistics from the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, there was a slight drop in DWI cases filed between 2019 and 2020. In 2019, there were 5,856 DWI cases filed. In 2020 there were 4,405 cases, and there was one less intoxication manslaughter case.
For Salama, the goal to end drunk driving crashes is personal. She lost her fiancé in a wrong-way driver crash and is now trying to raise awareness and do her part to spare others that grief.
She says it’s a careless decision that can be avoided if the community discouraged relatives, neighbors, and friends from driving while drunk, no matter how awkward that conversation might be.
For help and resources, call MADD’s 24-hour hotline at 877-275-6233.