Jackson Rawson, One Other Injured in Wrong-Way Crash on Ben White Blvd in Austin, TX
Austin, TX -- August 22, 2021, 25-year-old Jackson Rawson and another person were injured in a collision on East Ben E. White Boulevard in Austin.
Authorities say the incident happened around 3:25 a.m. on Ben White Boulevard near South Congress Avenue. Preliminary investigation suggests Rawson was driving a Lexus LS 430 sedan west in the eastbound lanes, against traffic, near the 200 block of Ben White. Nearby a Ford Fiesta was traveling east at approximately 70 miles per hour based on a frozen speedometer mark observed by police after the crash. The driver told investigators he reached for his phone to change the song playing when they noticed the oncoming headlights and crashed head-on with the Lexus immediately afterward.
Both drivers were pinned in their vehicles after the collision. After they were extricated by firefighters each was transported to area hospitals for treatment of serious injuries. Lawson's injuries were described as life-threatening.
Investigators noted Rawson emitted a strong odor of alcohol and they found a still-cold empty beer bottle in the Lexus.
No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Jackson Rawson Crash on Ben White Blvd in Austin
When a wrong-way collision happens late into the night like this it's not unreasonable to think that alcohol could be a factor. Austin police seem reasonably certain that's true here as well, but it would still need verification through testing before it's more than a suspicion. If they're right it wouldn't be terribly surprising; the vast majority of wrong-way collisions are caused by impaired drivers.
If that's true in this crash too then some may think there's little else to consider. Between any pending charges and the suspect's own injuries, it seems like the "consequences" portion of the issue is handled, right? Texas law doesn't exactly agree, and to that end if alcohol was to blame then investigators should find out where it came from. Why? Because many similar crashes--particularly those occurring in the wee hours of the morning--occur after people leave local bars. If that's the case in Austin, it may mean there are further considerations under dram shop law.
Basically, dram shop law says that an alcohol provider who over-serves an obviously intoxicated person may be liable for any damage that person goes on to cause or suffer while under the influence. Texas gives DWI crash victims--even the drunk drivers themselves--the right to make dram shop claims as a tool to ensure negligent bars face consequences when they choose to break the law and continue liquoring up customers who clearly should be cut off.
People may argue a bar can't have been responsible because police found a beer bottle still cold to the touch, suggesting the driver picked up more drinks somewhere. If a store sold them to him that would still be a dram shop violation, though if he took a "roadie" from a private party or his own home then it's unlikely any businesses would be held responsible. Whether further investigation finds a lawbreaking bar or not, the effort is still important any time alcohol and serious injuries are tied together. So will police make any effort to trace the alcohol back to its source, or would this be a situation better left to independent investigators?