As any experienced car accident lawyer serving Orlando knows, drunk driving has historically been a major public safety concern for drivers across the Sunshine State.
The state has worked to decrease drunk driving accidents through a combination of efforts: sobriety checkpoints, increased police presence and tougher penalties for blood-alcohol content test refusals and repeat DUI offenders. Despite these measures, Florida remains one of the most dangerous states for drunk drivers.
A recent news article reported Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to have awarded Florida a four out of five rating for its drunk driving accident prevention efforts, revealing the state's strengths - and areas where improvement is necessary - in preventing alcohol-related car crashes throughout the state.
Ignition Interlock Devices And Drunk Driving Accident Prevention
According to a WUFT 5 news report, MADD's four out of five star rating reflects a number of preventative measures taken by Florida lawmakers to curb drunk driving arrests and accidents throughout the state. MADD's requirements for a five-star rating include revoking licenses of repeat DUI offenders, enhancing penalties for DUI child endangerment, conducting sobriety checkpoints across the state and enhancing penalties for drivers who refuse on-site blood-alcohol content tests by law enforcement officials.
While MADD's four-star rating indicates that Florida has successfully implemented those preventative measures throughout the state, WUFT 5 reports that Florida's ignition interlock law leaves room for improvement. An ignition interlock device is installed into a convicted DUI driver's vehicle to measure breath alcohol content. If the device detects alcohol on that driver's breath, he will not be able to start his vehicle. The device also requires drivers to provide a breath sample at random times while that driver is behind the wheel.
Florida's current ignition interlock statutes require repeat offenders and first-time offenders with a BAC greater than or equal to .15 percent - twice the legal limit - to use ignition interlock devices. MADD's requirement for a five-star rating includes requiring ignition interlock devices for all offenders, a preventative measure taken by other states seeking to crack down on alcohol-related arrests and accidents.
Preventing Drunk Driving Accidents in Florida
With statistics obtained from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) finding close to one-third of the state's fatal traffic accidents to have involved an alcohol-impaired driver between 2011 and 2013, Florida's consistent four-star rating reveals drastic room for improvement.
The WUFT 5 news article reveals that 7,185 ignition interlock devices were installed in Florida between January and August 2014. Furthermore, the state received more than $1 million for a federal ignition interlock incentive, according to a 2015 MADD Report.
However, despite calls from Florida legislators to expand existing laws to allow judges to order ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders in lieu of a 10-day vehicle impoundment, officials from MADD told WUFT 5 that no steps have been taken to make these important devices mandatory for all convicted drunk drivers, potentially leading to hundreds of accidents, injuries and fatalities every year.
Law Office of Scott M. Miller, P.A., serves injury victims in Longwood, Fla. and Orlando, as well as other communities in Florida, including Sanford, Winter Springs, Winter Park, Casselberry, Maitland and Eatonville. Call 1-866-MILLER-5 for a free case evaluation.