HOUSTON – There have been approximately 300 underage drinkers charged with driving while intoxicated this year, according to the Harris County District Attorney's Office. This is the first time that the district attorney’s office has tracked the number of arrests of those between the ages of 17 and 20.
Those who have lost loved ones because of an underage drunken driver said that they can’t forget and something has to be done.
Carmen Rainer said that she remembers the headlights coming straight at the car and the desperate moments after the crash, when she tried to pull her 1-year-old grandson from the smashed vehicle. The child's mother and Rainer's daughter, 23-year-old Taylor Phillips, died in the front seat.
“He took a mother from a son that she adored. He took a daughter, he took a sister and friend from a lot of people,” Rainer said.
The driver, who that was charged with intoxication manslaughter, was a teenager.
Prosecutors said that 19-year-old Erik Hernandez drank for several hours at Servi-Car 3 Bar before getting behind the wheel.
Sean Teare, chief of the Harris County Vehicular Crimes Division, said that 300 underage drinkers have been charged with DWI this year.
“We are talking about those that are over .08, and our numbers suggest they were way over .08 on the average, even double that,” Teare said.
Teare said that there have been four intoxication manslaughter charges this year alone.
“When you put all of those together, that’s the troubling stat that we have to really figure out why it is happening and how we can tackle it,” Teare said.
Rainer said that she has to use her voice for her daughter and wants stricter laws and harsher punishments for minors.
“Somebody has to speak for her, somebody. Somebody has to speak for all of them. It's not just her, and she won't be the last. That is the sad part. There's more to come," she said.