An investigation by WTSP 10 News in Tampa, for example, found there were 113,076 three-time DUI offenders in Florida. Of those, nearly 12,000 have five arrests or more – and are still driving.
The problem is that when it comes to drunk driving, jail time is not mandatory, unless someone is seriously hurt or killed as a result. But according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, by the time a person is arrested for DUI, he or she has already driven drunk on average 88 times.
F.S. 316.193 is the state’s drunk driving statute. Penalties for DUI without injury or property damage include:
- Up to 6 months in jail for a first-time conviction;
- Up to 9 months in jail for a second conviction, with mandatory ignition interlock for at least 1 year;
- Up to five years in prison for a third offense if it occurs within 10 years of the prior conviction, plus a mandatory ignition interlock for at least 2 years.
Penalties may increase if the driver had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher.
Under that same statute, a person who kills someone while drunk behind the wheel must serve a mandatory four years in prison, with the possibility of up up to 15 years in prison. If a person is drunk, kills someone and then flees the scene, they face up to 30 years.
All of this may sound harsh, but the issue is that unless someone is hurt or killed, judges have discretion when it comes to sentencing. Although it’s true that drunk driving often involves people who had no intent to harm or are struggling with alcohol addiction, the fact is, their failure to use reasonable care on the roads puts others at grave risk.
In 2012, The Sun Sentinel reported that about 100 licensed drivers in Broward and Palm Beach Counties have at least four prior DUI arrests.
Another report from WPBF 25 News recently highlighted this issue as well.
The reporter detailed one story in which a young mother was stopped at a red light when she was struck from behind by an allegedly drunk driver. Her child, who was 15-months-old at the time, was strapped into his car seat in the back seat, and was ejected from the vehicle. Thankfully, the child was not seriously injured. The mother, however, now suffers from constant pain due to herniated and compressed discs in her lower back. She also has had ongoing fear about driving. According to the accident report in that case, the at-fault driver had three prior DUI convictions – all out-of-state. For this reason, prosecutors were reportedly unaware initially of defendant’s criminal history. Previously, the driver reportedly served community service for her prior convictions. She has since been charged with third-degree felony DUI.
Another story involved a woman recently convicted of DUI manslaughter in connection with a crash that occurred in November 2013, when she struck and killed a pedestrian. Two weeks after that accident, while out on bail, prosecutors say she was driving drunk again and struck a motorcyclist before fleeing the scene. The motorcyclist later died. The driver has just been sentenced to a 22-year prison term.
Advocates say a more proactive approach is necessary for those who arrested for first- and second-time DUI offenses. More intensive treatment, mandatory ignition interlock installation and longer probation periods are among the suggestions.
Our experienced Fort Myers DUI accident attorneys are committed to fighting for justice on behalf of DUI crash victims.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Special Report: South Florida drunk drivers, Nov. 10, 2015, By Paul LaGrone, WPBF 25-News
More Blog Entries:
Uspenskaya v. Meline – Collateral Source Rule in Florida Injury Cases, Nov. 3, 2015, Fort Myers Car Accident Attorney Blog