Friday fallout: When Drunk Driving In Florida, Is Two Times The Charm?

drunk driving in floridaYou’ve probably heard the adage “Some people never learn,” and that’s never been truer than when it comes to drunk driving in Florida. Although Florida DUI (driving under the influence) penalties are stiff, the state is full of repeat offenders who continually make the same choices over and over again.

Take a Tavernier, Florida driver for example. She was arrested for drunk driving for the first time at the beginning of September when she was racing through a park at high speeds, and witnesses in the park said she was trying to kill people with her car. After a few days in jail, which is enough to rattle most first offenders, she was let out on bond.

Exactly a month after she left jail for her first DUI, she was stopped and arrested for a second DUI on November 21st. That’s two arrests for drunk driving in Florida within two months, and this time she ran through a stop sign and hit another vehicle. Although she hasn’t even appeared before a judge for her first drunk driving charge, she’s added to the docket with a felony charge of aggravated assault with the use of a deadly weapon and her DUI charge.

friday-falloutFlorida is full of repeat drunk drivers, but this case still stands out as one of the fastest turnarounds for someone going from a first time offender to a repeat offender. She would have been far better off to have learned a lesson from her first DUI, because the penalty process she’ll have to endure for a second within two months is going to be stiff.

Florida first offenders face a driver’s license suspension for 180 days up to one year, but second offenders could lose their license for up to five years. On top of that, Florida ignition interlock laws only require an interlock for first offenders at the discretion of the judge, while second offenders need to install one for a year.

Thankfully this driver was caught drunk driving in Florida a second time before she could kill someone, and from the sounds of it, she’ll have some time in jail to think about why she wracked up two DUIs in two months.

The Friday Fallout: Every Friday Guardian Interlock brings you a unique drunk driving case that demonstrates the impact of – or fallout from – drunk driving.

What Can Happen When You Drink And Drive? More Than You Can Imagine

florida-drinking-and-drivingWhat’s the worst that could happen when you drink and drive? It’s true that different situations can happen to different people and there’s no one-crash-fits-all scenario,  but the one thing you can count on when you’re drinking and driving is that anything can happen.

Thanks to the power of alcohol affecting your coordination, vision, and senses, it’s all too easy to get into a drinking and driving crash where you drive into a power pole, off a road into a ditch, or straight into an oncoming car.

There’s also the strong possibility you’ll end up in legal trouble. Even if you’ve never received so much as a traffic ticket and you have a sparkling clean criminal record, drinking and driving can mean you end up arrested and anywhere from a few hours to a few years in jail.

Drinking and driving could also get you into some really strange situations; situations that would be hard to explain to friends and family when you’re sober. At least that’s what one Florida man found out recently when he found himself in a situation where he found out it’s possible to run yourself over.

How can someone run themselves over in their own vehicle?  It started with a night out in a strip club, and when the man decided he was driving himself home despite the fact that he was drunk, he ran himself over. You can see exactly how it happened in the video below.

Once the truck ran him over it kept going, and unfortunately it crashed into a house and hurt a woman inside. Although the man must also have been injured from getting run over, he ran away from the scene and was only arrested once the police tracked him down. Now he’s facing drunk driving charges, and in Florida that means driver’s license suspension, fines, and the possibility of an ignition interlock. With an ignition interlock installed, he won’t have to worry about being so drunk that he drives over himself again.

So if you’re ever holding the keys in your hand and you ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen if I  drink and drive?” just remember this man and you’ll realize that anything goes when you mix alcohol and your vehicle.

Here’s How Florida Could Get A Handle On Its Drunk Driving Problem

Florida drunk driving lawsFlorida might be a state with endless summer, but along with those balmy summer days and long nights on the patio comes an endless line up of drunk drivers on the road. Although you hear a lot about the drunk driving crashes and the number of drunk driving arrests that occur in the state, you don’t hear a lot about how Florida lawmakers are going to deal with that problem.

If Florida is interested in cutting down the number of drunk drivers in the state, there are two steps they can take right now.

Mandatory ignition interlocks for all offenders

All states have some sort of ignition interlock law and Florida is no exception. The state currently requires interlocks for first time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher, but first time offenders with a BAC between .08 and .14 are not required to use them unless a judge orders the penalty.

Florida should look to states like Arizona as an example of the power of how powerful an all offender ignition interlock law can be. Arizona requires first time offenders, regardless of BAC, to install an ignition interlock for one year, and that requirement has drastically cut the drunk drivers in the state. If Florida changed their drunk driving laws to include a mandatory ignition interlock law, they could cut the number of drunk drivers in their own state.

ignition interlock Florida Laws to hold bars accountable for over-serving

A recent drunk driving death has drawn attention to the fact that Florida doesn’t require a bar to be liable for over-serving. A man left a bar where he’d been drinking and crashed into a young mother and a deputy. Although the woman died and the deputy was seriously hurt, the man was so drunk he didn’t know what he hit and continued to drive until he got home.

Although his case hasn’t been settled, the bar he was drinking in won’t be held accountable for letting him leave while drunk. That’s because Florida only has two type of server liable laws: serving alcohol to minors and serving someone addicted to alcohol.

The bar in this case did attempt to stop the drunk driver from leaving and also called 911 after he left, but maybe if more Florida bar owners knew they’d be liable for their patrons actions after they left, they would have their own rules and regulations to stop these determined drivers.

These are two steps Florida can take to curb its drunk driving problem, but they’re very significant and important steps. An all offender ignition interlock law could keep drunk drivers away from the wheel of a car, while a server liable law could make bars and nightclubs more active in the fight against drunk driving.

Will Florida pass either of these laws? Hopefully lawmakers realize the clock is ticking, and each minute that goes by another drunk driver hits the road in their state.

October Busy Month For Florida Drunk Driving Crashes

WreckAlthough it’s not the worst state in the USA for drunk drivers, Florida has quite the reputation for drunk driving crashes and drunk driving arrests. These aren’t just minor drunk driving fender benders; they’re serious crashes that have claimed lives.

Need an example? Here are just a few drunk driving crashes in Florida from this past October.

Nassau County drunk driving crash involved children

When you have nine people in your vehicle, a drunk driving crash can be catastrophic. That’s exactly what happened in Nassau County, Florida recently when a woman decided to drive drunk with a SUV full of children. She struck a utility pole and two of the young boys died and several children under the age of fifteen were injured.

Tampa drunk driver slams another vehicle into barrier

Highway drunk driving crashes often end with a car crashing into a highway barrier, and more and more people are dying this way on busy roads. One recent crash happened after a speeding drunk driver plowed into another vehicle and forced it to slam into a barrier and burst into flames. It happened on the busy Veterans Expressway in Tampa, and the drunk driver also ended up slamming into a concrete barrier. He’s been charged with DUI (driving under the influence) manslaughter and vehicular homicide.

Orlando man injured in wrong-way, head-on crash

If anyone questions whether alcohol can affect a driver’s vision and judgement, they should take a look at the amount of drunk drivers who drive the wrong way down a road. It happens all too often, and an Orlando man was critically injured after he was involved in a head-on crash with a drunk driver who was driving the wrong way. When the driver was stopped and asked to take a breathalyzer, his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was double the legal limit at .149.

Three drunk driving crashes, all occurring with ten days of each other, give you a scary sample of what’s been going on in Florida. Tougher drunk driving laws and an all offender ignition interlock law are more needed than ever, so let’s hope that Florida lawmakers are paying attention to the scary rise in drunk driving crashes.

Have You Ever Seen A Police Officer Use An Ignition Interlock?

Florida ignition interlockThere’s a reason why you’ve never seen a police officer with an ignition interlock in the patrol car. Besides the fact that police officers definitely aren’t arrested for drunk driving every day, there’s also the fact that the officer would be suspended from the job before he or she would be allowed to drive a squad car with a restricted license and an ignition interlock.

Although it’s uncommon, it’s not completely unheard of for police officers to be arrested for drunk driving. Take a  St.Petersburg, Florida deputy for example: he’s currently facing drunk driving charges because he was found asleep behind the wheel of his personal car. No, he wasn’t actually driving at the time, but in Florida if you’re considered to be in physical control of her vehicle and you’re over the legal blood alcohol limit, you can be charged with drunk driving.

In addition to being in physical control of his vehicle while drunk, the officer refused to submit to a breathalyzer test and it was his second drunk driving charge. The fact that he refused to submit to a breathalyzer means his driver’s license is automatically suspended for one year, and because it’s his second drunk driving charge, he’s also required to pay the price of a repeat offender in Florida.

That means he’ll pay fines up to $4,000, spend up to one year in jail, and he’ll lose his license for up to five years. If he installs an ignition interlock in his personal vehicle, he’ll be able to drive again after one year.

In the case of a police officer arrested for drunk driving, there’s not much hope of keeping his job. This officer was suspended without pay pending investigation. He’s not the only one in the St.Petersburg police department that’s been arrested for drunk driving either. The department stated that six officers have been arrested for drunk driving over the past five years.

You don’t normally see a police officer arrested for drunk driving, but just because it doesn’t happen very often doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Sometimes they make the wrong choice too, and that choice can lead to the same penalties everyone else faces.

Friday Fallout: Tow Truck Drivers Unintentional Drunk Driving Targets

Florida drunk driving crash

Image from Tampabay.com

Out of all the states, Florida is one of the most well known as a hot spot for drunk drivers, and some of the drunk driving crashes that have happened in the state would shock even the most jaded anti-drunk driving advocate.

In a state where crashes happen every single week, one drunk driving crash that happened recently has sent shockwaves across Hillsborough County and the state of Florida. Troy McGuire, a tow truck driver who was just out on the roads doing his job, was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver. He’s not the first tow truck driver killed while on the job, and he won’t be the last.

Police had already been out arresting drunk drivers that day, and after arresting three drivers, police called in tow trucks to remove vehicles. McGuire was driving one of those tow trucks, and after he loaded two vehicles onto his truck, he was struck by a pickup truck while on the side of the road. His injuries were so severe he died at the scene.

Apparently the driver of the pickup truck veered to the shoulder, causing the crash, and he was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida shortly after. Along with the outpouring of grief for McGuire, tow truck drivers have taken the opportunity to speak about how dangerous their job is because of drunk drivers and other drivers who don’t bother to move over.

friday-falloutWhat’s the fallout from the tragic death of Troy McGuire? This should be a rude wake up call for Florida residents. An innocent man is dead because he was out pulling the vehicles of drunk drivers off the roads, only to be hit by another drunk driver.

This tragic irony behind this crash is reminiscent of the crash that claimed the life of Officer Noah Leotta in Maryland. Struck by a drunk driver while on the side of the road for a routine checkpoint, his death spurred Maryland to pass an all offender ignition interlock law.

Maybe the fallout from this crash will spur Florida to do the same.

He Was Slurring Words Because Of Wisdom Teeth, Not Drunk Driving

Florida drunk drivingFlorida police have heard every excuse in the book when it comes to drunk driving. The state is routinely ranked as one of the worst states for drunk drivers, and there have been cases involving everyone from a naked drunk driver to a recent case where the drunk driver in question told police his dentist was to blame for the condition he was in.

Michael Reyna of Fellsmere, Florida was pulled over by police early one morning because he was spotted speeding. When the police officer asked him for proof of insurance and his driver’s license, he tried to produce credit cards and the owner’s manual for his truck.

The officer asked him to perform field sobriety tests and he said he couldn’t as he had been shot in the leg a few years previous, but he could have said almost anything because the officer noted it was really difficult to understand him. His speech was so slurred he was having trouble answering simple questions.

When asked why his speech was slurred, he explained that he’d just had his wisdom teeth out. Upon further inquiry by the police officer, it was revealed that his dentist appointment had actually been twenty years ago. That could be a record for the longest time it takes for Novocain to wear off, but the police officer didn’t buy it given that he also had blood shot, glassy eyes and he smelt of alcohol.

Reyna was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida. That charges comes with jail time up to nine months, a driver’s license suspension of 180 days to one year, fines up to $2,000, and the possibility of an ignition interlock.

Blaming it on the dentist is just one more excuse in a long list of excuses Florida police have heard from drunk drivers. If you don’t want to suffer drunk driving penalties, it’s pretty simple to avoid: just don’t drink and drive.

When Drunk Drivers Attack: What Nurses And Doctors Deal With Every Day

drunk drivers attack nurses in ERSome people understand more than others what can happen if you drink and drive. Victims of drunk driving crashes or family of victims who have died in drunk driving crashes know first hand the pain and carnage a crash can cause. Doctors and nurses see what happens after a crash first hand too, and they are often the people who do their best to save the victims and help the drunk drivers who have caused the crash.

It’s hard to believe these doctors and nurses, people who are just trying to help, can be mistreated by drunk drivers once they arrive at the hospital, but that’s exactly what happened when Steven Osten was brought in to the ER.

Osten caused a crash when he rear-ended another vehicle on a highway. His airbags deployed and he had a bloody face when police arrived, but he wasn’t in the mood for help from anyone. He smelt like alcohol and was so belligerent that officers had to restrain him with handcuffs because he wouldn’t sit still.

To ensure he was all right after the crash, police had him brought into the local hospital. A nurse attempted to wipe the blood off his face and he kicked her, then swore at others who were just trying to help him. They had to sedate him in order to transport him to another hospital so they could assess his injuries.

He could have walked away from the crash with a driving under the influence (DUI) causing property damage charge, but his behavior after the crash means he’s in real hot water. He’s been charged with two counts of DUI causing property damage and one felony count of aggravated battery on an officer, fire fighter, or EMT, and one felony count of resisting arrest with violence.

Because of these charges he’s in jail, and he may not be seeing the outside of his cell for awhile. It just goes to show: even if you cause a drunk driving crash that doesn’t injure another person, the effects of alcohol could result in you ending up in a situation you never would be in if you were sober.

Florida Drunk Driving Crash Shows Laws Really Need Improvement

Florida drunk driving crash

Image from WFLA.com

It looks as if receiving the designation of having the worst drivers in America isn’t going to slow Florida drunk drivers down. Page after page of the new has been dedicated to reckless and drunk driving in the state, but one recent Florida drunk driving crash is shocking, even by Florida standards.

Marc Boysen was driving in New Port Richey, Florida at midnight on a Saturday. He rear-ended a car that was stopped at an intersection before he kept driving and headed toward US 19. Unfortunately that rear-ender is not the worst of this story, because as he drove toward the highway he crashed straight into a scooter.

The scooter driver was killed instantly, and his body landed on the hood of the car. Incredibly Boysen left the scene of the crash and kept driving with the body on his vehicle. He then sideswiped another car and crashed into another parked car. That’s when the body of the scooter rider was thrown off.

Witnesses jumped in to hold Boysen until the police arrived at the scene, and when they did he was charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving death, leaving the scene of a crash with property damage, driving under the influence (DUI) property damage, and felony DUI. If he’s convicted of all of these charges he’ll be in jail for a long, long time.

It’s all too easy to laugh off a designation that Florida has the worst drivers in the country, but no one is laughing when they read about how someone was so drunk they managed to crash with a body on the car hood. This Florida drunk driving crash is just one more reason why this is a state that needs to improve its drunk driving and ignition interlock laws, and they need to do it soon.

Confirmed: Florida Drivers Worst In Entire Country

Florida worst driversThere’s a lot of good and bad about Florida. On the plus side, the state has sunshine almost every day, tropical beaches, and enough entertainment to keep you busy for years. On the negative side, it’s been confirmed, to no one’s surprise, that Florida has some of the worst drivers in the United States.

A study by the website SmartAsset took a look at how often people Google terms like “traffic tickets”, a state’s drunk driving arrests, drivers who drive without insurance, and traffic deaths. It tallied all of this data and came up a list of the worst drivers and worst states to drive in, and Florida was at the top of the list.

Out of all of the categories Florida had the second lowest number of drivers with insurance on their vehicles and the most amount of Google searches for the keywords “speeding tickets” or “traffic tickets.”

According to SmartAsset, Florida also has 4.45 drunk drivers per 1,000 people, but that wasn’t the worst out of all of the states. Vermont actually ranks higher with 50.86 per 1,000 drunk drivers.

Just because Florida came in lower than Vermont doesn’t mean it isn’t over run with drunk drivers. This is the state where a grandmother was arrested while drunk driving in her bikini and golf cart DUI is a serious problem. Although the state has tried to pull drunk drivers off the roads with stiff fines, long-term driver’s license suspensions, and ignition interlocks for first offenders over .15 and repeat offenders, police are still seeing a huge number of drunk drivers.

In most cases it’s good to be number one, but not in this case. Having the worst drivers in the entire country is nothing to be proud of, but there is good news here. Once you hit bottom, there’s no where to go but up. Hopefully lawmakers in Florida take this as a sign to make some serious improvements.

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