Drinking and Driving – Labor Day & Holiday DUI Awareness
With the close of yet another Labor Day weekend, DUI enforcement patrols were out in full force and we are once again reminded of the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol. This year, an Arizona task force made national news headlines by reporting nearly 375 arrests for DUI over the long weekend.
Unfortunately, these arrests are just further evidence that drunk driving remains a prevalent issue across the US. On average, nearly 30 people die each day from fatal motor-vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. In the state of Florida, 33,625 DUI convictions were recorded at the close of 2011, 854 of which involved fatal accidents. While the average number of DUI-related fatalities in Florida and across the US has progressively declined over the past 20 years, efforts to prevent DUIs and promote awareness must continue.
DUI Accident Statistics
Labor Day indicates an end to summer and serves as an early pre-cursor to the holiday stretch. It also brings about the first of a series of holiday-related spikes in DUI arrests and accidents. Halloween parties bring an increase in alcohol consumption, followed by what many call “DUI season” or the time between Thanksgiving eve and New Year’s Day.
- An average of about 570 traffic fatalities occur on US roadways over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend each year, with about 36% of those deaths related to alcohol.
- In 2011, there were 138 traffic fatalities involving drunk driving.
- Research shows that high-visibility enforcement, such as well-publicized Labor-Day weekend DUI checkpoints, can reduce drunk-driving fatalities by as much as 20%.
- Since 2008, at least 750 DUI-related traffic fatalities have occurred in the State of Florida each year involving at least one driver with a BAC of 0.08% or higher.
- Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths. These other drugs are often used in combination with alcohol.
- According to MADD statistics, Florida experienced 716 alcohol-related traffic fatalities so far in 2013.
- Florida has recorded a total of 108,853 3-time DUI offenders and 13,054 5-time offenders.
- 100% of DUI cases are preventable.
DUI Legal Consequences
If a driver is involved in a motor-vehicle accident, he/she is likely to be at fault if his/her BAC is above 0.08%. That driver can be held liable for the costs of any injuries that result from the accident. If a fatality occurs, that driver can be found liable in a potential wrongful death suit – in addition to any criminal and punitive consequences.
The legal BAC limit in Florida is 0.08% – a first offense DUI, including costs of legal defense, fines, and auto insurance increases, averages about $8,000 over a 3-year period.
Breakdown of Florida Penalties for DUI (First Conviction)
- Fine – $250 to $500
- Community Service – 50 Hours
- Probation – Maximum of 1 Year
- Imprisonment – Maximum of 6 Months
- Imprisonment (with BAC of .08 or higher with a minor in the vehicle) – Maximum of 9 months
- License Revocation – Minimum of 180 days
- DUI School – 12 Hours
- Repeat DUI offenses are taken very seriously, as these drivers are deemed a serious threat to public safety and often require treatment for alcoholism. In addition to potential jail sentences, repeat offenders may face:
- Second Conviction – Revocation for 5 years (hardship/limited operation reinstatement after 1 year)
- Third Conviction – Third degree felony charge, up to $5,000 fine, 10-year license revocation.