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Deputy Renae Brown thinks of 9-year-old Jade Stephens every day. She didn’t know Jade, but she feels like she does: a funny and animated young girl who once performed stand-up comedy alongside her dad and received a standing ovation. Deputy Brown met Jade on the day she died when a drunk driver T-boned her family’s car nearly four years ago on her way home.

“I drive by the intersection of the crash on my way to work every day and I think of Jade and her family,” said Deputy Brown, who was off-duty at the time, but one of the first on the scene of the crash. “People often don’t realize that a drunk-driving crash has a ripple effect. While it obviously leaves the immediate family devastated, a whole community is changed. First responders, friends, teachers — they all remember the crash and feel that loss.”

“As a parent you think of all the possibilities that aren’t possible any longer,” said Eric Stephens, Jade’s father. “Jade was creative and talented — I could see her as an entertainer. Jade made a great impression on many in her short time here, but we’ll never know how great her impact could have been.”

Jade’s family and others involved in the crash are sharing their stories through the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Plan While You Can” campaign, which aims to save lives and decrease alcohol-related crashes by encouraging drivers to plan ahead for a sober ride before drinking. Last year, there were 23,773 alcohol-related crashes in Texas, resulting in 1,028 fatalities and another 2,171 serious injuries. Alcohol-related crash fatalities represented 28 percent of all crash fatalities in Texas in 2017.

During the summer months, the “Plan While You Can” campaign features Faces of Drunk Driving as a way for victims to share their heart-wrenching personal stories through TV public service announcements, social media, digital ads and media interviews. The Faces of Drunk Driving website features Jade’s story, as well as other stories from drunk-driving crash victims in Texas.

“We hope that by sharing Jade’s story and others like hers, it will convince drivers to think twice about making the senseless decision to drink and drive,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “We can prevent families from experiencing this heartache, and it only takes planning ahead for a sober ride.”

Drivers under the influence of alcohol risk killing or seriously injuring themselves or others, but also face up to $17,000 in fines and fees, jail time and loss of their driver’s license. Visit SoberRides.org to find alternatives to drinking and driving, such as:

  • Designating a sober driver or calling someone for a sober ride home
  • Contacting a cab or ride-share service
  • Using mass transit
  • Spending the night

TxDOT press release