Last September Texas lawmakers put in place a new law which provides stiffer penalties for drivers convicted of having a blood alcohol content twice (or more) the legal limit. It is hoped that this increased punishment will help deter repeat offenders in a state known for not cracking down hard enough on drunk drivers in the past.

Texas now used ankle monitors which detect alcohol, interlock devices which require the driver to submit to a self-administered breathalyzer test before the engine will start, and increased fines. There is also the increased likelihood even first time offenders will serve some jail time if convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Last December the National Transportation Safety Board released a report which said that traffic fatalities caused by distracted driving now outpaced the number of fatalities caused by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For the first time in decades something was worse than driving drunk so attention was shifted in that direction. But driving drunk did not suddenly become less dangerous because something else was causing more fatal crashes. In fact, drunk driving remains a deadly combination. Drivers who get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol face increased risk to themselves and others, along with the possibility of arrest, traffic citations and jail time.

Texas is hardly the only state grappling with a number of annual vehicle crashes caused by driving under the influence of alcohol. Every state has its fair share of drunk drivers and every state has consistently stepped up efforts to combat this scourge. Drunk driving fines across the nation have gone up, so has the threat of jail time, the use of interlock devices, and increased vigilance against drunk driving by police.

In Texas lawmakers and police have turned their focus to drunk driving not because distracted driving doesn’t matter to them, but because they know a problem when they see it and they have the tools to fight it head on.