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The Prospector

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The Prospector

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DUI incidents: How much more can El Paso take? 

In+2021%2C+1%2F5+of+crashes+in+El+Paso+were+caused+by+intoxicated+drivers%2C+resulting+in+at+least+one+injury+or+fatality.+
SalmaPaola Baca
In 2021, 1/5 of crashes in El Paso were caused by intoxicated drivers, resulting in at least one injury or fatality.

As cities and states are ranked from safest to the most dangerous every year, El Paso remains at the top for being one of the safest. However, when it comes to the daily commute of citizens, there has been an upward spiral of collisions, drunk drivers and an increase in DUI incidents that have grown concerns across the community.  

According to TXDOT, 680 DUI (alcohol) crashes and injuries were recorded around the entire El Paso County in 2022. According to Elpasotx.gov, 73 fatalities were recorded in drunk driving crashes in 2022.  

People in El Paso say it’s inevitable to miss the news of all the crashes because of the constant posts on social media, the seemingly constant news coverage, and continuous state of worry of those who fear losing their loved ones due to a crash. 

As of Dec. 22, 2023, El Paso experienced its 81st fatality and that number has seemingly increased over the years according to state data. 

 As we are only a couple of weeks into the new year, the county has endured its share of devastating incidents across the city, including the death of Anahi Karla Leanos. Leanos’ death was shared across social media platforms after she was killed the day before her 18th birthday.  

While her family copes with her death, they also have to cope with the fact that they will continue to live in a city where DUI incidents are not decreasing, and the perpetrators are not facing consequences that are harsh enough.  

Students at UTEP say it seems as if it is every day that ‘Therealfitfamelpaso’ posts about another horrific DUI crash in our local area.  

UTEP student Evelyn Peon says seeing all the posts on Instagram makes her uneasy, when she should not have to fear her daily commute.   

 “Personally, they make me feel very concerned as how the drunk driving situation has gotten out of hand in El Paso,” Peon said. “I feel like it’s an issue and I don’t really see something done about it.”  

Witnessing or experiencing an accident on the road may instill fear in drivers who are used to driving their occasional route. 

 UTEP student Emily Blanco recounts the time she witnessed a driver driving recklessly on her commute to school.  

“There have been multiple times where I’m driving and you can obviously tell they’re drunk,” Blanco said. “I was scared for my life.”  

During the New Year’s holiday, the district attorney’s office and Sun Bowl Association collaborated to form the “Pick your Ride Campaign,” in hopes of buckling down on the multitude of drunk driving incidents around the city.  

“There is a choice people make when they have been drinking and get behind the wheel and these accidents where people lose their lives,” said El Paso’s District Attorney, Bill D. Hicks.  

The “Pick your Ride Campaign” offered anyone who was drinking a $20 Uber voucher to ensure people got home safely in hopes of reducing the number of crashes. Even with this initiative, there were still numerous collisions that took place on the first day of the new year.  

 El Paso local, Ricardo Villegas, says everyone in the city who gets behind the wheel can drive safely every time they crank their cars.  

 “It’s a matter of everyone in the community doing their part to keep themselves safe, their loved ones and being courteous to people who are on the commute amongst you,” Villegas said.  

Some warning signs of a drunk driver could entail aggressive acceleration or breaking, swerving into other lanes or moving inappropriately through traffic. To report a possible drunk driver, call The Motorists Helpline at1-800-525-5555 or dial 911 and report the incident. 

 Marco Hinojosa is the audience and engagement editor and may be reached at [email protected]  

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About the Contributors
Marco Hinojosa, Audience and Engagement
Marco Hinojosa is the audience and engagement editor for The Prospector. He is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring multimedia journalism with a minor in criminal justice. He plans to broaden his horizons as a journalist and work for a major broadcast company.
SalmaPaola Baca, Photographer
SalmaPaola Baca is a senior at UTEP majoring in engineering innovation and leadership with a concentration and minor in civil engineering and an emphasis in computer science. Her passion for photography enables her to be photographer at The Prospector. While a full-time student, she freelances while planning to grow her platform through travel photography. After graduating, she wants to pursue a master’s degree in architecture while working on her photography simultaneously.
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