• November 30, 2022

Phyllis Hill Killed by Alleged DWI Driver on US-90 in Liberty County, TX

Liberty County, TX — November 27, 2022, 73-year-old Phyllis Koontz Hill died after being rear-ended by an alleged DWI driver on U.S. Highway 90 in Liberty County.

Authorities say the incident happened around 7:35 p.m. on US-90 at FM 190, just east of Raywood. Preliminary investigation suggests Hill was waiting to turn from the eastbound highway onto FM 190 when her Ford Ranger pickup was hit from behind by a Dodge Ram.

Hill was fatally injured in the crash. The Dodge driver, 58-year-old Robert Price, was arrested on potential charges of DWI and intoxication manslaughter. Samples were collected for further testing.

The investigation continues. No further information is available at this time.

Commentary on Phyllis Hill Accident in Liberty County

UPDATE (December 21, 2022): Later reports indicate the suspect had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of approximately .12 at the time of the crash. I don't say that with any judgment, but confirmation that he was over the legal limit for intoxication may mean there's more to investigate.

As I mentioned before, alcohol-related crashes in Texas sometimes involve holding the businesses that serve it responsible for the damage their intoxicated patrons cause. Under dram shop law any business that continued serving alcohol if their customer was obviously intoxicated may have a legal duty to help her injured passenger recover.

Even if that's the case, though, first that over-service would have to be proven. Police investigations aren't very helpful for that, so it's usually best for victims to get help from independent investigators who know how to get the necessary evidence. Armed with what those experts find, many people hurt by reckless over-service have held bad businesses accountable for breaking the law and contributing to their injuries.

Phyllis Hill Killed by Alleged DWI Driver on US-90 in Liberty County, TX

ORIGINAL: People tend to see suspected DWI accidents like this and quickly pin all the blame on the alleged drunk drivers. "It was their decision," the argument goes, "so who else would even be responsible for that?" Well, under Texas dram shop law a business that helped him get too intoxicated to drive safely might actually share some responsibility for the tragic and irreversible damage he caused to the victim.

Under dram shop law, licensed alcohol vendors like bars and restaurants are required to cut customers off if they're obviously intoxicated. Continuing to serve them alcohol after that is illegal, yet many businesses prioritize a few more bucks over public safety and keep serving drinks to people who clearly shouldn't have more. When that happens and their over-intoxicated customers hurt themselves or others, dram shop may hold that business liable for the damage done. It's important to ensure the business learns its lesson and that it helps those harmed by its recklessness.

To be clear, intoxication is only suspected here--not proven. Moreover, even if blood tests confirm alcohol was a factor that doesn't mean a bad bar over-served the suspect. I'm only saying the investigation should include the alcohol's source in case a local business is endangering its customers and community. If the victim's loved ones can get some help after their terrible loss as well, that's all the more reason to take the needed steps.

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