Paige Rangel and Children Injured by Alleged DWI Driver on TX-130 in Mustang Ridge
Mustang Ridge, TX -- December 24, 2021, 29-year-old Paige Rangel and two young children were injured in a car accident on State Highway 130 in Caldwell County.
Authorities say the incident happened around 2:30 a.m. on TX-130 near a local exit ramp. Preliminary investigation suggests 24-year-old Alexis Tapia was driving a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck north in the southbound travel lanes, against traffic, when he crested a hill and allegedly surprised Rangel, who was driving a Ford Escape SUV. Rangel swerved left to avoid the oncoming pickup and lost control, at which point the Ford overturned and rolled several times before coming to rest in the median between the travel lanes.
Rangel and two children in the vehicle, a toddler and an infant, suffered serious injuries in the accident. Tapia was reportedly unhurt.
County deputies caught up to Tapia almost a mile north of the crash scene near the Travis County line. They detected signs he was intoxicated and arrested him for intoxication assault. He reportedly refused to provide samples for toxicological testing and a warrant was requested. After samples were obtained tests showed Tapia had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of approximately .119, over the legal limit of .08.
No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Paige Rangel Accident on TX-130 in Mustang Ridge
Blood tests seem to have confirmed that the man who allegedly caused this accident was intoxicated by alcohol when it happened. That may change how the accident should be handled as well as what rights the victims may have when getting back on their feet.
The legal limit of .08 was decided upon because it's essentially the level of impairment when an average person can no longer safely do complex tasks without risks. The most common of those tasks is operating a moving vehicle; fine motor skills and judgment are considered too compromised at that point for someone to properly manipulate a ton or two of steel and fiberglass.
Part of the issue with a .08 BAC is that depending on an individual's mass and metabolism it can also be hard to perceive. That sort of "stealth inebriation" can even persist for a few drinks beyond that, though by its nature it becomes increasingly hard to hide. At some point signs of intoxication (balance and speech issues, flushed face, volume control problems) are clear even to casual observers, to say nothing of a business's trained staff.
Here's why I bring any of that up: If that same staff noticed the signs that their customer was past his limits and continued pouring him drinks anyway, they and the business they work for may have violated Texas dram shop law. If so, the business would then have a legal responsibility to make whatever amends it could for its role in the injuries he caused on Route 130. Dram shop law is the instrument by which law-breaking bars and other alcohol-serving businesses are held accountable for negligent over-service and the way people injured by that recklessness seek help with their recovery.
Not every DWI crash involves a dram violation and it's unclear if one happened in Caldwell County. However, it's important to investigate that possibility any time alcohol use causes injuries. It's a crucial area of the law for helping victims and protecting communities, yet despite its importance police rarely look into dram shop violations. That's why if an alcohol vendor (bar, restaurant, club, store, etc) is suspected of being involved, I often recommend working with an independent investigator to find the evidence needed to hold it properly accountable.