Proposed Florida DUI Law Could Mean Ignition Interlock Devices for Nearly 24,000 Drivers in the State
By: Mike Stetzer
Requiring convicted DUI offenders to install breath alcohol ignition interlock devices has been a topic of interest in Illinois and South Carolina already this year, and you can now add Florida to the list of states looking to curb DUI through this means of DUI penalties.
A MiamiHerald.com story recently detailed several proposed Florida DUI laws, including the alcohol ignition interlock legislation which passed the state House of Representatives on April 27th and now awaits action in the Senate.
With a unanimous 114-0 vote, the state House of Representatives passed this proposed Florida DUI law mandating that convicted DUI offenders breathe into an alcohol ignition interlock device every time they want to use their vehicles. The story said that the ignition interlock device would prevent a car from starting if a person registered a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.025 percent. Under Florida DUI laws, it is illegal to be driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, whether measured in the blood or breath.
This proposed law would apply to drivers who have been convicted of Florida drunk driving and referred to a substance-abuse treatment provider. This proposed Florida DUI law would require first-time offenders to install the ignition interlock system in their cars for a mandatory six months. The time period for alcohol ignition interlock devices would be increased for drivers with a BAC of 0.20 percent or higher, and drivers convicted of DUI while having a minor in the car and registering a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher.
The story said that nearly 5,500 people in the state are currently using ignition interlock systems. If this bill was signed into law, it would take effect on July 1st and require nearly 24,000 of the 40,000 people convicted of DUI in Florida to install an ignition interlock device.
Also under this proposed Florida DUI law, the alcohol ignition interlock devices would be leased and include a $70 installation fee and $67.50 monthly charge for monitoring and calibration.
Senator Dan Webster said in the story that this proposed Florida DUI law has a decent change of passing his chamber. In order to be considered, this proposed addition to current Florida DUI laws would have to be withdrawn from a Senate committee that failed to look at it and then scheduled for a floor vote in the immediate future.
Florida DUI Law is Backed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) & Drunk Driving Statistics
Local officials of MADD say that many previously convicted drunk drivers will likely get behind the wheel while impaired again. They even argue that alcohol ignition interlock devices are a good start, but more needs to be done to prevent DUI in Florida.
They point to drunk driving statistics like these ones:
- Alcohol was in the blood of 42 percent of people who died in traffic crashes in the United States in 2005.
- The U.S. average of drivers involved in fatal drunk driving accidents in 2005 was 33 percent. In Florida, that number was slightly higher than the national average at 36 percent.
With such statistics in mind, the state House of Representatives has also recently passed another Florida DUI law that would raise the insurance liability coverage for DUI offenders and protect those people who suffer car accident injuries because of a drunken driver.
Specifically, this proposed addition to current DUI laws in Florida would raise this liability insurance coverage for convicted drunken drivers to $100,000 per person, $300,000 per incident for personal injury protection (PIP) and $50,000 for property damage. Current Florida DUI law requires that people involved in serious traffic violations carry $10,000 in PIP per person, $20,000 PIP per incident and $10,000 for property damage liability.
This proposed Florida DUI law is scheduled on the Senate Calendar for further action. If signed into law, it would take effect immediately.