In an effort to decrease the amount of repeat DUI (driving under the influence) offenders, many states have increased the severity of their punishments on first-time offenders. Fines, imprisonment, community service, and an ignition interlock device requirement have all been dramatically increased for an initial offense of driving while intoxicated.
According to a drunk driving car accident lawyer in Miami, FL, “In 2006, 29% of car accidents that resulted in a fatality in the state of Florida were caused by drunk drivers”. Due to a desire to preserve their large tourist trade, the state is very strict with DUI convictions. If you are convicted of a DUI for the first time, you can expect the following:
- Up to nine months in jail depending on blood alcohol level (BAC) or mandatory enrollment in a substance abuse program at the expense of the individual
- Fines of up to $2,000; a very high BAC or the presence of a minor in the car will see the highest fines
- License suspension for a minimum of six months, plus reinstatement fee
- Vehicle impounded for 10 days, plus impounding fees
- 50 hours of community service and a fine of $10 per service hour paid to the state for maintaining the program
- Ignition interlock device for up to six months, plus the cost of having the device installed and later removed
Ignition Interlock Devices
The ignition interlock device is a portable breathalyzer device that is hooked into the ignition system of your car and must be used to start and operate the vehicle. This instrument is positioned in a place that is within reach of the driver, with a breath tube that the driver must blow into before the car can be started.
A “rolling retest” may be required periodically while the car is in motion. This ensures that the driver remains sober while operating the vehicle.
Most people who have had one of these devices installed in their vehicles have stated that they do not intend to drink and drive again just because of the inconvenience, difficulty, and embarrassment involved with using it.
Are These Penalties Too Harsh?
Many people believe that these harsh penalties are too much for a first-time conviction and should be lessened. Others believe that the act of drunk driving is a serious offense which warrants strong and decisive response. Here are some facts taken from MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the U.S. Department of Transportation:
- Drunk driving accidents caused more than 10,000 deaths in 20121
- 40 people are injured in DUI-related accidents every hour of every day
- First time DUI arrests usually occur after the individual has driven intoxicated at least 80 times prior to getting caught
- One third of all people in the United States will be involved in some type of accident with an intoxicated driver
When you look closely and think deeply about these facts, you may wonder if the penalties are really harsh enough. So which side are you on?
As a safe driver, writer LaGeris Underwood Bell wants to believe that everyone else on the road is as well. Unfortunately, a drunk driving car accident lawyer in Miami, FL knows all too well, that this is not the case. If and when the need arises for assistance with a DUI, look for local legal representation as quickly as possible.