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Drunk driving deaths are declining in Florida

Drunk driving deaths are declining in Florida

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Drunk driving deaths are decreasing in Florida.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 814 alcohol-impaired fatalities in 2018. That is down from 841 alcohol-impaired fatalities in 2017. Across the nation, there have been 10,511 alcohol-impaired fatalities in 2018 compared to 10,908 alcohol-impaired fatalities in 2017, a 2.4 percent decrease.

Nationally, passenger cars were involved in the most drunk driving deaths among vehicles in 2018, killing 4,217 people. Pickup trucks were the second most alcohol related driving deaths with 1,822 deaths, followed by 1,727 deaths involving utility vehicles. Motorcycles accounted for 1,295 alcohol related deaths. Vans accounted for 322 drunk driving deaths in 2018. Large trucks had the least amount of drunk driving deaths at 146 deaths.

While drunk driving deaths are decreasing in Florida, the Sunshine State has a long way to go in stopping DUIs. The NHTSA says Florida ranks as the third highest state when it comes to drunk driving deaths in 2018. Only Texas and California had more alcohol-related driving deaths last year at 1,439 and 1,069, respectively.

Causing a death while driving under the influence of alcohol can result in DUI manslaughter charges in Florida. Having a BAC level of .08 or more is considered legally drunk in Florida.

A driver under the legal BAC limit can still be charged with DUI manslaughter if they kill someone while driving. Florida’s impairment laws also state the driver must be in control of his or her normal faculties, which include the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, make judgments, and normally perform general mental and physical activities of daily life. If it can be shown that you lack full possession of normal faculties, you will be considered impaired.

Under these laws, it is possible for a driver to be charged with a DUI manslaughter if a police officer claims your faculties were impaired at the time of the death, even if your BAC level was under the 0.08 limit, or if alcohol was not the direct cause of the accident.  

For example, if a driver ran into another car while under the influence of prescription drugs and caused a death, her or she can be charged with DUI manslaughter.

DUI manslaughters in Florida are normally second-degree felonies. Convictions can result in up to 15 years in prison, a $10,000 fine and/or permanent revocation of your driver’s license.

Penalties are worse if the driver knew, or should have known, that the crash happened but failed to give information and render aid as required by Florida law, the charge increases to a first-degree felony. A conviction under these circumstances can lead to 30 yeas in prison, a $10,000 fine and permanent revocation of your driver’s license.

Given that death can occur and the penalties are severe, the best advice is to never drink and drive. Instead, call a taxi, Uber, Lyft or stay where you are.

About The Author
Steven Kenneth Bell
With extensive experience as a Public Defender, Steven Bell applies his knowledge of Florida's court systems to the cases he tackles as a partner at the law firm Meltzer & Bell, P.A. After graduating magna cum laude from Nova Southeastern University and becoming licensed to practice law in 2004, Mr. Bell joined the Broward County Public Defender's Office in the Juvenile Division. His ...read more

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