Austin Bonner Injured in Crash with 18-Wheeler on Loop 323 in Smith County, TX
Smith County, TX -- April 23, 2022, 28-year-old Austin Bonner was injured in a crash with a commercial truck on State Loop 323 in Smith County.
Authorities say the incident happened around 2:25 a.m. on Loop 323 near Farm to Market Road 14. Preliminary investigation suggests Bonner was driving a Ford F-150 pickup east on the Loop when he reportedly veered out of his lane and crashed into the rear-right of a Volvo tractor-trailer that was stopped waiting to turn left at the FM 14 intersection.
Bonner suffered serious injuries in the crash. When interviewed at the scene and several days later, he allegedly said both times that he had consumed alcohol before driving. Investigators noted a plan to obtain his treatment records as part of a DWI investigation.
No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Austin Bonner Accident on Loop 323 in Smith County
Given the circumstances of this crash and the driver's reported confession of drinking, it seems reasonable that alcohol is considered a potential factor. Treatment records should offer some insight into how much of a role (if any) it played, and depending on what they reveal the victim may unfortunately face some legal consequences for his choices that night.
Some might consider that essentially the end of the matter, but that may not be true. After alcohol-related crashes Texas law looks beyond the drivers and also considers whether the businesses that sold them their drinks has a share of the responsibility for the damage done. Dram shop laws are designed to hold alcohol providers accountable for over-service, meaning times where they sell or serve alcohol to obviously intoxicated customers. If they do that and break the law, they may be liable for any injuries those customers go on to cause or suffer while excessively impaired.
Not every DWI accident involves a dram shop violation. For instance, if the suspect drank at home first or bought alcohol while sober and then drank it on the road, it's not likely that a business could be held liable for his injuries. Even if that's ultimately found to be the case, though, it's worth knowing for sure one way or the other any time alcohol consumption may be a direct factor in an accident.
So will the authorities learn where the drinks were consumed? I hate saying this, but I doubt they'll put much effort into that. Police don't often check into possible dram shop violations despite how important it is to identify and stop that reckless behavior. Victims of drunk driving accidents, even the injured drivers themselves, are often best served by independent investigations if they want to hold a negligent business responsible.