I suppose articles like this one in the Orlando Sentinel are supposed to get people to think twice about drunk driving. And that’s certainly a fine goal, really. No one is supportive of driving under the influence or impaired.
But in everything there is a line that can’t be crossed (actual intoxication/impairment) and some gray area. Having a drink and driving is perfectly legal. Having two drinks and driving is, for most people perfectly legal, unless they are huge drinks, or for some other reason able to impair you.
That level of impairment has a legal definition. It is .08% BAC as measured on a legal, officially maintained and operated breath test machine. There are also a number of subjective measures that may indicate impairment, as mentioned in this article. They include:
- Erratic driving
- bloodshot/glassy eyes
- the smell of alcohol on your breath
- slurred speech
- various field sobriety tests
- and other indicators
It is objectively true that you can have any of the above indicators and absolutely not be impaired or guilty of drunk driving.
And again, we all agree that if it is a close call, you probably shouldn’t be driving. But the degrees are important. Plenty of people who are arrested, and even convicted of DUI in Florida were probably not really impaired. But that law makes it very likely that a person will plead guilty on close calls, because, 1) they will likely lose anyway, and 2) it is a very difficult and time consuming process to defend yourself in court for a trial that could take months to resolve, all the while you don’t have the ability to drive and earn a living. This happens everyday.
But they stigma attached is severely out of proportion. In the article, and insurance industry rep is quoted:
“Your insurance company will usually find out about your conviction when they check your driving record come renewal time, said David Snyder, vice president and assistant general counsel for the American Insurance Association. Then your rates will increase sharply, or the company could drop you altogether.
“I can’t imagine anything other than killing somebody with a car that is viewed more negatively than a drunk-driving conviction,” Snyder said.”
I wonder if this is a factual statement, or just a strange opinion. Because I can imagine things that should be treated more seriously. How about driving through a playground full of preschoolers at 75mph?
The anti-drunk driving industry refuses to have any perspective on these issues. Most people who get convicted of a DUI aren’t hardened, dangerous criminals. Assuming a person is truly guilty – and not just forced to plead guilty because of how stacked the system is against defendants – then they made a mistake. A mistake in an area of the law where there is significant gray area, and prosecutions and convictions are way out of proportion with the actual crime.
If you are facing a DUI/Drunk Driving charge in Florida courts, please contact us for a free legal consultation and case evaluation.