After any tragic case of someone killed by a repeat drunk driver, there are always a flurry of editorials about Florida drunk driving laws, and what can be done about preventing future victims. The most recent article is here in the Sarasota Herald Tribune.
It is important to distinguish between people who make a mistake and may be slightly over the limit, and those who have chronic alcohol addiction and abuse problems, who are the most likely to re-offend.
Unfortunately, Florida DUI laws are a blunt instrument that tends to punish decent citizens who make a mistake as if they are dangerous criminals. The laws are set up to maximize the pain of fighting a charge, fair or not, due to instant license loss and the potential financial hardships that result from not being able to drive.
And, as the article says, those who are chronic abusers are much more likely to drive while their license is suspended after a DUI, or illegally borrow a car to avoid an ignition interlock device requirement.
The current law which requires an ignition interlock device after a 2nd offense conviction, or a .15 BAC Enhanced DUI is arguably reasonable compromise. But punishing citizens with a IID requirement after any conviction would be unduly harsh on regular citizens, and it unlikely to prevent future drunk driving incidents.
And proposals for mandatory alcohol monitoring in all vehicles is extraordinarily intrusive and over the top.
We all want rules and laws that keep drunk drivers off the road and work to insure public safely while not infringing on the civil liberties and rights of ordinary citizens.
Fortunately, there is an innovative law enforcement approach to chronic alcohol abuse and drunk driving right in Sarasota: The Sarasota County DUI Court.
DUI courts in Florida (there are 3) exist to aggressively monitor and change the behavior of chronic alcohol abusers with two or more DUI convictions. The monitor and test for alcohol consumption, treat the person’s alcohol addiction. If a person succeeds in the program, they are given an opportunity for reduced sentences. If a person washes out, stiff penalties are issued.
It will be fascinating to see what results from these innovative courts, and if an impact on Florida drunk driving statistics can be measure as a direct result from programs like these.
If you are arrested and charged with a DUI in Florida, please contact us for a free legal defense consultation. We look forward to speaking with you and offering our help.
I completely agree Florida DUI laws can be a little harsh. First time offenders can expect up to $500 in fines, 50+ hours community service, 6 months in jail and other things such as an ignition interlock. Don’t drink and drive and be sure to know the DUI Laws for your state.