Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is continuing efforts in 2014 to encourage lawmakers to adopt regulations that could reduce drunk driving incidents. Florida has adopted the majority of the recommended laws but MADD’s 2014 Report to the Nation indicates that the state could do more.
Drunk driving fatalities represented 29 percent of total traffic deaths in Florida in 2012, with 697 people losing their lives in collisions involving alcohol. This was a .4 percent increase from the prior year. Family members of victims who are killed have legal rights, as do victims hurt in a collision with an intoxicated motorist. A drunk driving attorney in West Palm Beach can help victims of drunk driving collisions. Contact Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., today to schedule your free consultation.
Florida Can Take Steps to Combat Drunk Driving
Florida takes a tough stance on drunk driving and many regulations aim to discourage drivers from getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. For example, Florida allows for sobriety checkpoints and has a no refusal policy so drivers suspected of being impaired cannot decline to have their blood-alcohol content (BAC) tested without automatically losing their driver’s license. Child endangerment laws impose stricter penalties on drivers who are impaired with young people in the car and administrative license suspension (ALS) also occurs after a drunk driving arrest or refusal to submit to a BAC test. Each of these laws has earned Florida a star for following MADD recommendations, giving the state four stars out of five.
Unfortunately, despite its tough laws, there are still hundreds of drunk drivers on the streets in Florida annually. MADD reports that:
- 12,016 people were hurt in alcohol-related crashes in Florida in 2012.
- A total of 17,199 Florida crashes involving alcohol occurred in 2012.
- There were 53,664 arrests and 28,689 convictions of intoxicated motorists in Florida over the course of 2012.
- A total of 18,268 drivers refused to take a blood alcohol content test over the course of the same year.
- There were 113,076 three-time offenders and 11,681 five-time offenders in the state of Florida.
It is not uncommon for impaired motorists to drive drunk repeatedly, even after they have been caught and arrested. Florida could thus significantly improve its safety efforts by making one simple change: requiring ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for every offender convicted of driving drunk.
Lawmakers passed a law in 2008 that required the use of ignition interlock devices for first time offenders if they had a BAC above .15, but motorists convicted who were just over the .08 legal limit do not have to have one of these devices installed when they resume driving. Drunk driving could be significantly reduced if all offenders had to use an IID, since there were more than 20,000 repeat DUI offenders arrested in Florida in 2010 who were driving on a suspended license.
Drunk driving not only has a devastating cost for victims, but it also has a huge financial cost as well. The comprehensive economic cost of a drunk driving death is $5.2 million. Florida lawmakers could save money and lives by following MADD’s recommendations and imposing an IID requirement for all convicted drunk driving offenders.
A drunk driving accident attorney in West Palm Beach can help accident victims. Call Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., today at 800-608-2965 or visit www.gonzalezcartwright.com to schedule a free consultation.