Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month is an effort to prevent impaired driving. Unfortunately, impaired driving spikes during the holidays, so it’s no wonder that December was the chosen month to bring awareness to this issue. There were as many as 5,125 alcohol related accidents in Florida, in 2017. Over 350 of those included fatalities. That’s bad news. Even worse, your loved ones could be the victims of impaired driving accidents.
In this short blog, we’re outlining some of the local laws on impaired driving. We’re including some alternative options to consider before getting behind the wheel while impaired. First, we’ll start with some local statistics. There were 24,334 DUI convictions, in Florida, in the year 2017. More than 10% of these were within Orange County. There is a zero tolerance policy for driving under the influence while under the age of 21 in the state of Florida.
The penalties are steep for a first offense:
Florida Penalties for DUI First Conviction
- Fine – $500 to $1000 (blood alcohol level of .15 or higher or minor in vehicle)
- Community Service – 50 Hours
- Probation – Not more than 1 Year
- Imprisonment – Not more than 6 Months
- Imprisonment with BAC of .08 or higher with a minor in the vehicle, not more than 9 months
- License Revocation – Minimum of 180 days
- DUI School – 12 Hours
But wait, penalties for a first DUI conviction in Florida increase dramatically if blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.15 or higher or if a minor is in the vehicle.
This is assuming that no collisions or fatalities are the result of impaired driving, of course. A scenario in which the offender is ticketed and arrested for drunk or drugged driving is the best case scenario. Situations where property damage is incurred further increases penalties. Unfortunately, circumstances where intoxicated driving results in the loss of life or limb can never truly be made right. In addition to legal punishments, offenders can be subject to civil actions such as wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits.
We’re encouraging all Floridians this holiday season make the roads safer by not driving under the influence. Here’s a few tips for preventing getting behind the wheel while intoxicated:
#1. Make A Plan (and stick to it).
While it sounds remedial, having an established plan for you and your passengers to depart from and arrive at your destination safely is the first step in prevention. Remember, if you have underage passengers in your vehicle at the time of arrest, the penalties increase dramatically. So if you leave your house as a family/group, make sure at least one adult stays sober to drive home. Or make alternative arrangements before drinking.
#2. Know Your Options (in advance).
Let’s say you find yourself incapable of safely driving, but without a ride home. This is not the best time to download Uber or Lyft. Make sure you know of the options in your area before heading out and drinking. Fortunately, a city like Orlando, Florida offers many options for taxi and chauffeur services in addition to rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. You can read more about the best rated services here.
#3. Know When You’ve Had Too Much.
There’s not a “safe” amount when it comes to driving and operating a vehicle. Depending on the level of alcohol in the drink, person and circumstances, even one glass of wine over dinner could be too much. If you are the designated driver, opt for non-alcoholic drinks to keep others on the road safe.
We didn’t discuss the “drugged” component of this month of awareness. It’s common sense that driving while under the influence of illegal drugs can carry the same consequences and worse if found in possession of illegal drugs when arrested. If you take a medication that makes you drowsy or expressly warns you from drinking alcohol or operating a vehicle, please make sure to consider this before getting behind the wheel.
We hope you will work with us to help prevent Drunk and Drugged Driving and keep our families and roads safe this holiday season! If you need advice regarding personal injury or wrongful death resulting from a DUI accident please contact our office.