Another One Of Those Crazy Drunk Driving Stories From Florida

crazy drunk driving stories florida

Image from Citrus River Sheriff Office Facebook page

Florida: home to 12 months of sunshine, balmy weather, and some really crazy drunk driving stories. Take one drunk driver who was arrested outside one of the biggest tourist events in Crystal River, Florida as an example. You won’t be surprised when you hear how his story ended.

Paul Wilkins was driving drunk just outside Citrus River’s yearly Pirate Fest. Because it’s a large event police were on the scene, and he drove his vehicle straight into a traffic control point. That’s when things got a little strange, because he drove through a bunch of traffic cones, struck a detective’s vehicle, pushed it thirty feet, and crashed it straight into the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) brand new patrol car.

The irony of the situation? The patrol car he crashed into has “Don’t drink and drive” and “A Cop or a Cab, you decide” emblazoned on its side. The car was clearly displayed amid flashing lights and other patrol cars as part of a set up by police that night, and the CCSO thought it was a teachable moment, and because crazy drunk driving stories should be shared, they posted the story on their Facebook page.

Thankfully this is one crazy drunk driving story that had a funny ending; most of them do not. What Florida really needs to stop these drunk drivers is an all offender ignition interlock law, but that may not be happening anytime soon. Two bills presented to require all drunk drivers to install an ignition interlock have died in the judiciary committee, and only time will tell if they are brought back in some shape or form.

Until Florida has the means to crack down on their drunk driving population, they’re going to have trouble with drunk drivers like these. In this case only an anti-drunk driving patrol car was damaged, but it could have ended badly for everyone there that night.

Seattle Man Skips Ignition Interlock After Killing Two Teens

ignition interlock deviceIgnition interlock devices have one main purpose: to stop a drunk driver from driving his or her vehicle after they’ve been drinking. Some states have a threshold of as low as .01 blood alcohol content (BAC) to stop a convicted offender from drinking and driving with an interlock, and if they blow anything beyond that amount, the car simply won’t start.

But an ignition interlock won’t stop a drunk driver who’s required to use one but doesn’t, and although Washington State advocates for interlocks for all offenders, they’ve seen their fair share of non-compliance where this penalty is concerned.

Alexander Peder was required to use an ignition interlock because he was a repeat drunk driving offender in Washington State. He already had two previous drunk driving convictions on his record because he had crashed into and killed two teens while drunk, and he managed to plead down to lesser charges but was still required to drive with an ignition interlock after he was released from prison.

The problem? He didn’t bother using that mandatory ignition interlock. Thanks to a report from his ignition interlock provider police knew he was rarely driving the car it was installed in, and when the Washington State Patrol stopped him they discovered he wasn’t driving with one. They also found he was drinking alcohol, and that violated another condition of his release from prison. As for any violation of state law, there are penalties to pay for noncompliance: he’s now been charged with driving a vehicle without his interlock.

Ignition interlock compliance is a huge issue for states with all offender ignition interlock laws, and it’s good for offenders in any state to keep in mind that you can’t just skip the penalty and pass by unnoticed. Eventually it will catch up to you, and if you’re lucky enough to not injure or kill someone because you drove drunk again, that violation will come with its own set of penalties.

This Is Why Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders Should Never Get A Pass

repeat drunk driving offenders times square

Image from The Daily Mail

There are a lot of repeat drunk driving offenders on the roads, and if you asked judges, police officers, and local lawmakers, they’d tell you it’s impossible to catch them all. But what if they do catch a repeat drunk driving offender and they let him off easy, thinking he’d never drink and drive again? That’s a dangerous thing to do, because you could end up with a situation like the one that happened in Times Square.

It turns out that the driver responsible for killing one person and injuring twenty two others when he made the choice to drive high into Times Square is actually a repeat drunk driving offender and was caught twice in one year for drinking and driving.

In accordance with New York drunk driving laws, the offender went in front of a judge after he was stopped in September 2015 for a second drunk driving offense. The judge penalized him with a six month driver’s license suspension and was ordered to take part in New York’s Stop DWI program. Unfortunately the judge decided he didn’t have to complete it because he’d received a favorable assessment for drunk drivers after his first offense.

The biggest issue with this repeat drunk driving offender is that he wasn’t required to install an ignition interlock device, and no one is saying why. Although not every state has a first offender interlock law like New York, an ignition interlock is required for repeat drunk driving offenders in most US states. The fact that he wasn’t required to use one is shocking, because how can the judge or anyone else trust that a unattended repeat offender is not going to drive drunk?

All this offender had to do was pay a $500 fee and wait out his six month driver’s license suspension. There’s no indicator that he did or didn’t drink and drive during that period of time, but it’s clear that he made the decision to get behind the wheel high this time and the worst case scenario played out in one of the busiest spots in the world.

This is exactly what every anti-drunk driving advocate and every police officer is afraid of happening after someone is arrested for drunk driving and gets off easy, and it reinforces the need to not give any repeat offender in any state a pass when it comes to drunk or drugged driving.

Could A Drunk Driving Offender Get An Interlock Pass In Missouri?

drunk driving offender If a drunk driving offender loses his or her driver’s license and is required to only drive with an ignition interlock device, should that person be allowed to drive a company car without one? The answer should be no: a drunk driving offender shouldn’t be able to drive without an interlock, period. But if you’re convicted of drunk driving in Missouri? The answer could soon be yes.

A bill that’s on the table in Missouri could allow a drunk driving offender to drive an employer-owned company vehicle without an ignition interlock device. Senate Bill 474 states that any repeat drunk driving offender who is required to drive with an ignition interlock in their personal vehicle can apply for an exemption that will let them operate a vehicle owned by their employer.

If you’re convicted of drunk driving in Missouri right now, using an ignition interlock device is a requirement, not an option. Missouri is an all-offender ignition interlock state, and that means a first-time offender is required to use the device upon driver’s license suspension for a period of ninety days. That time period is longer for repeat offenders.

What could happen if they change the law to allow repeat offenders to skip the ignition interlock, even if it’s just on an employer’s vehicle? Although you’d hope these offenders would realize this restricted license is a privilege and stick to the rules, it’s possible that a repeat offender would be tempted to drink and drive in their employer’s vehicle. And if they drink and drive, someone could easily be injured or killed because of that reckless decision.

A better option for Missouri would be to strengthen their ignition interlock laws by allowing an drunk driving offender to install an interlock immediately after arrest. That would give them an immediate consequence for making the choice to drink and drive. Missouri could also beef up their laws to require ignition interlocks if someone refuses a breathalyzer.

Senate Bill 474 is making its way through the house. Whether it will pass is anyone’s guess, but to stop drunk driving offenders in a state like Missouri, ignition interlocks are needed in all vehicles, not just personal vehicles.

Time To Toughen Up Colorado’s Ignition Interlock Law?

Colorado ignition interlock lawThere’s a growing number of states that are reaping the benefits of an all-offender ignition interlock law, and Colorado state is one of them. Colorado passed their ignition interlock law back in 2009, and since that time they’ve reported a decrease in drunk driving deaths overall.

But Colorado seems to be a state that likes to keep that positive momentum going, because they’ve recently put out a new bill that would add strengthen their driving under the influence law even more. House Bill 17-1288 would crack down on Colorado’s repeat drunk driving offenders by toughening up penalties for anyone who commits a class four felony DUI or has been charged with four DUIs in two years.

These penalties include jail time, and it’s not a light sentence. Anyone who meets the criteria for the new law would be required to spend a minimum of ninety days to a maximum of two years in jail. In addition to that, the repeat offender would be required to perform community service and they’d have to attend drug or alcohol classes.

According to Colorado’s all-offender ignition interlock law, any repeat offender in this situation would also be required to install an interlock for a period of four years. In addition to toughening up the jail time for these offenders, it might also be time for Colorado to add time to an every offender’s ignition interlock program.

Some states require anyone convicted of repeat offenses, whether that’s three, four, or five convictions, to install an ignition interlock device for ten years or, in some cases, a lifetime. An interlock is the only concrete prevention that can be used to stop someone from drunk driving over and over again, and when a repeat offender uses the device as directed by the courts or the DMV, he or she is much more likely to never drink and drive again.

House Bill 17-1288 is a good step in stopping repeat offenders, but an improved ignition interlock program with longer program times would also be a smart move in Colorado.

Florida Drunk Driving Alive And Well In Hillsborough County

Florida drunk driving ignition interlock Out of all the counties in the entire state of Florida, one large but unassuming area is taking the top spot as the leader of Florida drunk driving cases. No, it’s not the Miami area with a bustling population of over two and a half million people: it’s Tampa Bay’s Hillsborough County, and although it has a smaller population of just over one million people, it’s leading the way for driving under the influence (DUI) crashes in Florida.

It’s not a distinction that anyone wants for their county, but there’s no denying that Hillsborough County is the center of a serious Florida drunk driving problem. According to statistics published by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), there were over fourteen hundred DUI crashes in Hillsborough, and when you do the math that adds up to four DUI crashes per day. Those crashes aren’t just minor fender benders either: sixty-seven people were killed in Hillsborough County last year, and it’s all because too many people are still making the choice to drink and drive.

There are other statistics coming out of Hillsborough County that are just as disturbing. Data released from the local Central Breath Testing Unit showed that almost twelve hundred drivers were arrested for DUI, and of those people who submitted to a breath test, all of them were almost double the legal limit. That’s incredible, and it’s difficult to believe that there are even more Florida drunk drivers on the roads in Hillsborough who refused to submit to a breath test.

All of this data puts a glaring spotlight on the need for Florida drunk driving laws to change, and one of the most important changes is passing an all-offender ignition interlock law in the state. There’s a bill that’s currently making it’s way through the Florida legislature, and if it eventually gets to the Governor’s desk for a signature, every offender in Florida will be required to install an interlock upon DUI conviction.

Ignition interlocks make sense for Florida, especially in areas like Hillsborough County. Let’s hope this is a bill that passes soon.

Nevada Senate Approves All-Offender Ignition Interlock Bill

all offender ignition interlock law nevadaThe state of Nevada is one step closer to passing an all-offender ignition interlock law, and if it does, it will join in with the growing majority of states who have already passed this lifesaving law.

Senate Bill 259 would require all offenders to install an ignition interlock for a period of at least six months. This new law would also includes first time offenders, and by all accounts it’s a bill that’s on fire right now because it recently passed the Nevada Senate with a vote of 21-0 and is now on the way to the State Assembly.

If an all-offender ignition interlock law is passed in Nevada, it would drastically change the landscape for all drunk drivers in the state. Right now if a person is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Nevada is only required to install the device upon a judge’s order, and that order usually only comes down if he or she is arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .15 or if that person is a repeat DUI offender.

Although deaths due to drunk driving have been going down in the state, this is a bill that’s been wanted by Nevada’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving for a long time. The organization has shared stats that show that the average drunk driver will drive drunk at least seventy five times before he or she is finally arrested, and at least fifty percent of drunk drivers will continue to drive on a suspended driver’s license.

If Nevada truly wants to continue a downward trend of drunk driving crashes, having an all-offender ignition interlock bill would be the best place to start. The device is a guarantee that a drunk driver cannot start the vehicle if he or she has been drinking alcohol, and that will keep all roads in Nevada safer for all drivers.

MADD Ready To Support All Offender Ignition Interlock Law In Florida

all offender ignition interlock law in FloridaIt’s been a long time in coming and it hasn’t passed all of its hurdles yet, but a lot of people are pulling for an all offender ignition interlock law in Florida. One organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), is taking its support for ignition interlocks straight to the Florida Capitol.

As it’s done in the past for Pennsylvania, Texas, and Ohio, MADD has spent time testifying on behalf of an all offender ignition interlock law in Florida. They’d like to see Florida become one of the many states that have taken the steps to pass an ignition interlock law, and by all accounts this is a state that really needs that support.

Take Palm Beach: police are grappling with multiple repeat offenders in the court system right now, and two of the repeat offenders who are currently sitting in jail were arrested for their seventh and, incredibly, seventeenth drunk driving charges. According to the Palm Beach Post there are also more than fifty convicted defendants who had at least three drunk driving convictions but were arrested again.

That could be, because right now, Florida only requires an ignition interlock for a period of six months for any first offender with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or higher. Drivers are also required to install an interlock if they drive drunk with a minor in the vehicle or if they have multiple DUI arrests. These relatively easygoing drunk driving laws could result in offenders making the choice to drink and drive over and over again.

Stopping first time offenders from becoming repeat offenders is one of the reasons why MADD supports an all offender ignition interlock law in Florida. Hopefully we’ll soon see a bill in front of the Governor for signature.

No, Bread Won’t Violate Your Ohio Ignition Interlock Program

bread won't violate Ohio ignition interlock lawWhen Annie Rooney’s family began their attempts to pass Annie’s Law, the Ohio ignition interlock law, they knew it would have its detractors. Some believe ignition interlocks should only be used for repeat offenders who are more likely to drink and drive again, while others worry that such a strict law would mean that casual drinkers are penalized too harshly.

Still others believe that Ohio ignition law could lead to unintended consequences for people who use the devices. Take a recent article in WCPO Cincinnati for example: it detailed how ignition interlock devices are so touchy they could result in failing the interlock test, all for something as simple as eating a piece of bread.

The lawyer in the video showed that if you eat a piece of bread and try to start your vehicle immediately after, you could possibly blow .02 or higher on your interlock. This is a possible reaction to the yeast in the bread, and he detailed how a similar situation could happen if you drink energy drinks, cough syrup, or even have pizza in your mouth before you blow. He also warned of possible consequences as far as your Ohio ignition interlock program is concerned if you record a “violation” like this.

The problem with this scenario is that it falls under the category of alternate facts. To start, he already provides the solution to this issue within the video: rinse out your mouth before blowing into an interlock. That’s pretty common advice when you have an Ohio ignition interlock, and it’s unlikely that someone will be eating a piece of bread or pizza and then decide to immediately blow into their ignition interlock. If they are in that situation where they are eating on the run, all they have to do is rinse their mouth and wait about 15 minutes before they blow. Problem solved.

Here’s what you need to know about ignition interlocks: if pizza dough does cause you to fail an ignition interlock test, it’s not a violation at all: it’s considered a contaminant-related fail. When an Ohio ignition interlock technician reviews the data from your interlock, he or she knows that you’ve had a contaminant-related fail. Because they know the difference between an alcohol-related violation and a contaminant-related fail, you will not receive the dire extension to your license suspension as predicted by the individual in the article.

Not everyone may be on board with Annie’s Law right now, and there are more than few ignition interlock myths like this one floating around, but thanks to Annie’s Law thousands of Ohio lives will be saved. You can’t deny that’s a great thing for the state.

What Does A Fork lift And A Florida Drunk Driver Have In Common?

Florida drunk driverA forklift is a great machine when you want to lift heavy objects, and it’s a go-to device for many people who work in big box retail businesses or out in a construction yard, But as a getaway vehicle for a Florida drunk driver, it’s not such a great option.

At least that’s what a Florida drunk driver found out when he lost his keys recently. He said he was helping his friend move in the Florida Keys when he misplaced his car keys. Instead of calling a cab, he decided that stealing a forklift from a lot nearby would be a great option for getting home because he knew how to drive one.

He also knew how to fix a gate, and he probably thought that was a good thing too because he managed to smash into it when he was trying to leave with the forklift. Police were called and they found that this Florida drunk driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that was twice the legal limit of .08. Now he’s facing a laundry list of charges including driving under the influence (DUI), and because he’s been charged in Florida, he’s also facing a laundry list of penalties including possible jail time, driver’s license suspension, and stiff fines.

Because his BAC was over 0.15, he’ll be required to sign up for the Florida ignition interlock program. It’s currently mandatory for a first-time offender with a BAC higher than 0.15 to use an ignition interlock, and if a new bill passes the House, the devices will also become a requirement for any first offender with a BAC over .08.

Florida drunk drivers have been caught behind the wheel of many different types of vehicles, but a fork lift may just be one of the poorest choices someone from Florida has made yet. Let’s hope this is the first and last time someone tries to raid a construction yard for a way home.

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