Anti-drunk driving advocacy groups tend to be united in the core common goal of slashing the number of deaths and injuries caused by impaired drivers.
But now, DUI injury attorneys in Fort Lauderdale note conflict brewing among various factions regarding how to best accomplish this goal.
On the one side is Mothers Against Drunk Driving and vendors of the ignition-interlock devices. The devices have been used by Florida courts for several years now. Florida Statute 316.193 is the provision of law that mandates the devices be installed on vehicles driven by individuals who have been twice-convicted of DUI.
First-time offenders can be ordered to have the devices installed by a judge, but it isn’t required unless there were extenuating circumstances, such as a driver blew higher than a 0.20 percent or there was a child in the car.
MADD and makers of the devices seek to expand Florida law so that first-time offenders will be required to have the devices installed regardless of the situation.
However, officials with local sheriff’s offices and the Florida Department of Highway Safety of Motor Vehicle have another idea. It’s not that they are staunchly opposed to mandatory ignition-interlock devices for first-time offenders, even though the executive director of the FDHSMV has publicly questioned the necessity and efficacy of doing so. Instead, what they are pushing is an alternative in the form of the “24/7 sobriety” program.
It has already been proposed in Florida HB 7005, which was recently approved unanimously in the House Economic Affairs Committee. It would require that drivers submit to twice-daily alcohol testing, random urinalysis or some type of continuous monitoring device, such as an alcohol-monitoring bracelet.
Those who fail the test the first time would have to endure a 12-hour jail stint. Those who do it again would have to report to jail for a full 24 hours. A third or subsequent failure would result in a hearing before a judge, and possible extended incarceration. Far steeper penalties would be imposed if a person were actually driving after drinking. The proposal would give judges discretion in terms of what they want to apply to a particular defendant – 24/7 monitoring or ignition interlock.
Advocates for this approach say it’s far more effective long-term as it forces people to maintain sobriety, not just abstain from driving while drinking. Further, they say it cuts down on other types of alcohol-related crimes.
However, ignition interlock vendors say not only would it cut into their profits (a $10 million industry in Florida), but that the full scope of results have yet to be proven.
The director of the FDHSMV is proposing a pilot program where each method be measured over the course of five years and then compared.
While legislators debate, drugged driving and drunk driving continues to be a major problem. Just consider the recent case of a 21-year-old Fort Lauderdale woman who was driving the wrong-way down the Sawgrass Expressway five months ago, shortly after making a Twitter post saying she was “2 drunk 2 care.” She struck another vehicle carrying two other young women, killing them both. The allegedly drunk driver is being held on $600,000 bond on two counts of DUI manslaughter and two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of driving without a license causing death.
While the criminal trial is likely more than a year away, the victims’ families have filed suit against not only the driver, but the bar that served the then-20-year-old alcohol throughout the evening before the crash.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your Fort Lauderdale drunk driving injuries.
Twice-daily breath tests could replace car locks for repeat DUI convicts, April 17, 2014, By Dara Kam, News Service of Florida
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