Those who decide to get behind the wheel after drinking face a high probability of being pulled over and arrested or, worse yet, being involved in a deadly vehicle crash. Already in 2015, there have been several Florida accidents which were attributed to drunk driving. In addition, verdicts and sentences have been determined in DUI (driving under the influence) manslaughter cases from accidents occurring in 2011 and 2014. Some examples of those reported by NBC-2 were:
- In June 2015 in Collier County, a Naples man pled no contest to DUI manslaughter after he ran a red light, leading to the crash that killed a 16-year-old boy the previous year. The Naples resident's sentence was 10 years in jail followed by 5 years probation.
- In March 2015, a Charlotte County male resident died after an intoxicated driver tried to pass on the left while the he was making a left turn. The driver was charged with DUI manslaughter.
- In February 2015 a 24-year-old woman was sentenced to 24 years in prison and an additional 6 years probation for the 2013 DUI accident which caused the deaths of two young woman. The driver's blood alcohol level (BAC) was twice the legal limit, according to the police, when she drove the wrong way on the Sawgrass Expressway. Just before the accident the driver Tweeted,"2 Drunk 2 Care". In court this year, the 24-year-old said, "One mistake changed all our lives, one stupid mistake, I am sorry."
How Big is the Problem?
According to the Cape Coral Police, between 2012 to 2014, 40 percent of the accidents that resulted in death or serious injury involved alcohol.
According to Florida DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) records, there were 50,377 DUI tickets issued in Florida in 2013, and 474 fatalities due to DUI.
Between 2010 and 2012, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Association) reported that 64 people were killed by drunk drivers in Lee County alone. Another 28 died in Collier during that same time period, with an additional 16 deaths in Charlotte County.
What Constitutes Drunk Driving?
As with many other state laws, Florida law defines drunk driving (DUI) as having a BAC of 0.08% or above.
What are Florida’s efforts to reduce DUI:
Florida, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) "Sobering Facts: Drunk Driving in Florida", has implemented the following strategies to help reduce DUI occurrences:
- Sobriety checkpoints - These checkpoints allow police to briefly stop vehicles at specific, highly visible, locations to see if a driver is impaired. If the police have a reason to suspect a driver is intoxicated, they may administer breath tests.
- Ignition interlocks - Ignition interlocks are used for those we have been convicted of drunk driving. The interlocks have proven to be highly effective. They function by keeping vehicles from starting if the driver has a BAC above a certain level which is usually 0.02%.
- Mass media campaigns - Participating in national mass media campaigns such as "Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over" has helped spread messages about the physical dangers and legal consequences of drunk driving.
- Administrative license revocation or suspension laws - These laws allow police to take away the license of a driver who tests at or above the legal BAC limit or who refuses testing.
- Alcohol screening and brief interventions - Alcohol screening and interventions take advantage of “teachable moments” to identify people at risk for alcohol problems and get them treatment as needed.
"The consequences of driving while intoxicated are devastating and life-changing. There are ways to avoid the tragedies associated with DUI accidents. Here are some of the things you can do to avoid a DUI from DrunkDrivingPrevention.com," said Hurt By Drunk Driver Attorney, Randall Spivey of Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.
Avoid a DUI charge by planning ahead:
- Enlist a designated driver - Find a friend who does not drink to be your designated driver.
- Pay for a taxi – If you cannot find any friends to be your designated sober driver, call a taxi.
- Plan to stay with a friend – If finding a safe ride home seems out of the question, think about asking a friend if you can stay the night with him or her.
- Get a motel room for the evening – If you cannot stay with a friend, get a motel room for the evening.
- If planning on getting a ride home or staying somewhere is getting too complicated - Think about NOT going out and celebrating at home instead.