Each and every state in the USA has a problem with repeat drunk drivers, but every state seems to deal with this population of offenders in a different way. Some states are strict, with jail time, stiff fines, and different levels of penalties for different types of offenders, while others treat a first offense in the same way they would a traffic ticket.
There is one common penalty that, if passed across the board in the United States, would stop each and every offender from drinking and driving again: an ignition interlock. These devices are by far the simplest and most effective solution to preventing drunk drivers from driving, and they are so effective that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has come out in strong support of the devices.
More and more states are starting to get the message that repeat drunk drivers can and will be stopped by ignition interlocks, and that’s why it’s surprising that states like Florida, with such a large repeat offender population, haven’t yet passed an all offender ignition interlock law.
Why hasn’t a state that’s so well known for drunk driving not passed an interlock law when so many other states are already on board? There are a lot of variables at work, but one of the main reasons could be that lawmakers in Florida feel they already hand down harsh penalties for drunk drivers.
A first offender in Florida could spend up to six months in jail, they’ll pay fines up to $1,000, and they’ll lose their driver’s license for up to one year. Those are pretty harsh penalties, because most states don’t have jail time for first offenders at all.
A first time Florida offender can very easily turn into a repeat offender, all because there’s nothing stopping them from drinking and driving on a suspended license. If they were required to use an ignition interlock, they’d have to blow before they could go, and that would prevent them from making the choice to drive drunk.
Because Florida is tougher on drunk drivers than a lot of other states, the answer to curbing their repeat offender problem really is simple: require ignition interlocks for all offenders. Having that law will make a real difference when it comes to Florida road safety.