FLHSMV launches Never Drive Impaired campaign, discusses DUI dangers
~ March and May historically display a higher propensity for impaired driving ~
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Every spring, Florida becomes a popular warm-weather destination for students and tourists. Unfortunately, March has also historically shown a higher propensity for DUIs on Florida’s roadways.
Driving impaired has real consequences that negatively impact thousands of Floridians each year. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) work tirelessly to educate on the dangers of driving impaired and enforce laws that protect residents and visitors of our state.
Throughout March, FLHSMV and FHP will spearhead an impaired-driving awareness campaign aimed at reducing impaired-driving-related crashes and fatalities across the state.
Around the slogan “Impairment is No Illusion,” the Never Drive Impaired campaign will focus on making conscious choices that encourage safety when behind the wheel.
“As a state built on freedom, Florida welcomes people to visit, travel, and enjoy the best our state has to offer. We are a state that puts public safety and order first, and so there are no excuses when it comes to driving while impaired,” FLHSMV Director Dave Kerner said. “Impaired driving – whether from alcohol or drugs – has real consequences, and the Florida Highway Patrol will look for and punish those caught breaking the law.”
In March 2022, alcohol was confirmed in 479 crashes in Florida – a 3% increase from 2021 – resulting in 41 deaths and 41 serious bodily injuries.
Of the 5,746 impaired-driving crashes – those influenced by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both – in Florida in 2022, nearly 10% (568) occurred in March. FLHSMV data analysis shows that six of Florida’s 67 counties accounted for over 37% of Florida’s impaired-driving crashes in March.
Among the highest impaired-driving crashes were counties Pinellas (64), Duval (58), Hillsborough (54), Lee (49), Orange (40), and Manatee (34) – accounting for 299 of Florida’s 791 impaired-driving crashes for the month.
Historically, citations issued for driving under the influence (DUI) and open-container violations are at their highest during the month of March. There were 3,013 DUI citations and 647 open-container citations were issued in Florida last March.
Of note, impaired driving is not limited to just alcohol; it could also involve recreational and pharmaceutical drugs.
Unlike with alcohol, there is no specific impairment limit with marijuana. Marijuana affects everyone differently and can remain in a person’s system much longer than alcohol.
Marijuana is the most prevalent drug in teenagers and young adults involved in crashes in Florida.
In March 2022, 64 crashes were drug-confirmed and another 25 involved both drugs and alcohol.
Among drug-confirmed crashes in Florida last March, Pinellas County (12) was the only county in double digits, though the most fatalities occurred in Duval County (6).
Under Florida law, driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or an unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of how the offense is proven.
PENALTIES FOR DUI:
- For any DUI conviction, your driver’s license will be revoked for a minimum of 180 days.
- If you refuse to take a required roadside test at the time of arrest, your license will be automatically suspended for one year.
- Fines for DUI can range from $500 to $5,000 with mandatory DUI school education.
- Penalties can include an ignition interlock device, community service, probation or imprisonment.
- DUI convictions must remain on your record for 75 years.
FHP and law enforcement officers statewide are trained to spot the signs of impaired driving and are constantly monitoring Florida’s roadways to keep everyone safe. While it is their duty to keep our roadways safe, it is also every driver’s responsibility to do their part.
“Plan ahead this Spring Break with a designated driver or ride-share service before you take your first drink,” said Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “The Florida Highway Patrol will be out protecting the public from impaired drivers, so use good judgment and never drive impaired.”
FLHSMV CAMPAIGN PARTNERS:
“At the Florida Department of Transportation, we have a target of zero transportation related fatalities and proudly work with communities throughout the state to reach that objective,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “As Floridians and visitors enjoy the many recreational opportunities Florida has to offer, doing so responsibly will ensure their own safety and the safety of others. Operating under the influence can have life-changing repercussions. Drive sober or plan for a safe way to your destination.”
“The Florida Police Chiefs Association reminds everyone that getting behind the wheel under the influence of drugs or alcohol isn’t just dangerous, it’s illegal,” said Fellsmere Police Department Chief Keith Touchberry, President of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “Even if you think you’re okay to drive after a few drinks, you’re not because impairment isn’t an illusion. Better to be safe than sorry and never drive impaired.”
“Our beautiful coastlines, venues, and theme parks bring an influx of young people each spring to enjoy all that Florida offers. To keep our residents and visitors safe, the Florida Sheriffs Association partners with the Florida Highway Patrol and the Florida Police Chiefs Association to educate on the dangers of impaired driving. As the president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, I fully support the Never Drive Impaired campaign as it saves lives,” said Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis, President, Florida Sheriffs Association.
“Celebrating safely must always include a sober ride home for all involved,” said Michele Harris, Florida Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Plan before you head out and, never drive impaired.”
For more information on the types of impairment, campaign resources, data, and more, visit FLHSMV’s Impaired Driving webpage.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) provides highway safety and security through service, education, and enforcement excellence. Florida is leading the way to A Safer Florida through the efficient and professional execution of its core mission: The issuance of driver licenses, vehicle tags and titles and the operation of the Florida Highway Patrol.