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Reopening brings surge in DWIs, drug cases filed in Harris County

Prosecutors fear that after weeks of people being locked inside, they'll see more deadly accidents.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — The reopening of Texas is bringing a resurgence of some crimes in Harris County.

The biggest uptick is driving while intoxicated, and prosecutors fear after weeks of people cooped up inside, they will see more deadly scenes on the road.

“It was a terrible week,” said Assistant District Attorney Sean Teare, chief of the Vehicular Crimes Unit. “Starting Sunday, we’ve had at least four deaths directly attributable to alcohol or drugs and vehicles.”

In the first week of reopening, daily DWIs in Harris County are up 50% from the stay-at-home month of April, according to a KHOU 11 Investigates analysis of cases filed with the Harris County District Clerk’s Office.

The daily average of cases from May 1 to May 7 compared to April showed drug cases filed were up 51%. There’s been a 19% increase in overall criminal charges per day compared to April.

“What we’re seeing is trying to make up for lost time,” Teare said. “They’re going to be out partying more; they’re going to be out drinking, taking drugs, getting behind the wheel.”

The prosecutor offered a firm warning to Houstonians as they head into the second week of getting back to normal.

“We’re out there. We are looking for people who aren’t going to do this responsibly. We’re going to catch them. We’re going to prosecute them,” He said.

The analysis also reveals another side to crime during the first week of reopening. In Harris County, murder charges are down 17% and robbery cases are 56% lower compared to the month of April. Domestic violence, which chiefs have said spiked during stay-home orders, remained the same.

Those numbers represent those arrested and charged and do not include unsolved crimes.