Harris County sees surge in underage DWI offenses during COVID-19 pandemic

HOUSTON – Over the last decade, the yearly numbers in Harris County for DWI-related fatalities have been near the top of the list nationwide. In fact, HPD’s DWI Task Force supervisor Sgt. Don Egdorf points to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stats, which show Houston leading the nation in 2019 with 155 DWI fatal crashes. The number topped Los Angeles County at 154, even though their population is double the size of Harris County.

As the pandemic forced everything to slow down, and in some cases shut down, the numbers didn’t go down, according to various law enforcement experts KPRC 2 Investigates spoke to. Lena Laurenzo, the attorney representing Luis Posadas, said she sees the increase.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing more victims,” said Laurenzo.

“I wish I had something that we can pinpoint and say, ‘This is why the numbers didn’t drop as they should have, but the reality is they didn’t,’” Egdorf added.

Many of these cases have led to criminal charges filed by the Harris County DA’s office. The office logged two more intoxicated manslaughter cases in 2020 than in 2019, and they are seeing a rapid climb in 2021.

“It is a bigger problem than people realize,” said Captain Anthony McConnell with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

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