Every spring, Florida becomes a popular warm-weather destination for students and tourists. Unfortunately, March has also historically shown a higher propensity for DUIs on Florida’s roadways.
Florida’s six highest-populated counties – Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Orange, Duval – account for half of impaired-driving crashes in the state. FLHSMV data analysis also shows alcohol-confirmed crashes in March have risen 7% from the previous year.
Driving impaired has real consequences that negatively impact thousands of Floridians each year. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) work tirelessly to educate on the dangers of driving impaired and enforce laws that protect residents and visitors of our state.
Throughout March, FLHSMV and FHP will spearhead an impaired-driving awareness campaign aimed at reducing impaired-driving-related crashes and fatalities across the state.
Around the slogan “Impairment is No Illusion,” the Never Drive Impaired campaign will focus on making conscious choices that encourage safety when behind the wheel.
“As a state built on freedom, Florida welcomes people to visit, travel, and enjoy the best our state has to offer. We are a state that puts public safety and order first, and so there are no excuses when it comes to driving while impaired,” FLHSMV Director Dave Kerner said. “Impaired driving – whether from alcohol or drugs – has real consequences, and the Florida Highway Patrol will look for and punish those caught breaking the law.”
Of the 88,494 impaired-driving crashes – those influenced by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both – in Florida in 2022, 41% (36,508) occurred in March.
FLHSMV data analysis has determined that six of Florida’s 64 counties accounted for 51% of Florida’s impaired-driving crashes in March.
Of the 36,508 impaired-driving crashes in March 2022 – a gain of 6% from the previous year – 18,790 occurred in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Hillsborough County, Orange County, Duval County and Palm Beach County.
That statistic holds up for the entirety of 2022. Of the 88,494 impaired-driving crashes in Florida last year, 44,515 (50%) can be attributed to those six counties, though as previously noted, they are also Florida’s highest-populated counties.
In March 2022, alcohol was confirmed in 479 crashes in Florida – a 7% increase from the previous year. Of the alcohol-confirmed crashes in March 2022, 41 resulted in serious bodily injuries, and 41 proved fatal.
Historically, citations issued for driving under the influence (DUI) and open-container violations are at their highest during the month of March. There were 3,013 DUI citations and 229 open-container citations were issued in Florida last March.
Under Florida law, driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or an unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of how the offense is proven.
PENALTIES FOR DUI:
- For any DUI conviction, your driver’s license will be revoked for a minimum of 180 days.
- If you refuse to take a required roadside test at the time of arrest, your license will be automatically suspended for one year.
- Fines for DUI can range from $500 to $5,000 with mandatory DUI school education.
- Penalties can include an ignition interlock device, community service, probation, or imprisonment.
- DUI convictions must remain on your record for 75 years.
FHP and law enforcement officers statewide are trained to spot the signs of impaired driving and are constantly monitoring Florida’s roadways to keep everyone safe. While it is their duty to keep our roadways safe, it is also every driver’s responsibility to do their part.
“Plan ahead this Spring Break with a designated driver or ride-share service before you take your first drink,” said Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “The Florida Highway Patrol will be out protecting the public from impaired drivers, so use good judgment and never drive impaired.”
Of note, impaired driving is not limited to just alcohol; it could also involve recreational and pharmaceutical drugs. In March 2022, 64 crashes were drug-confirmed, and another 25 involved both drugs and alcohol.
Unlike with alcohol, there is no specific impairment limit with marijuana. Marijuana affects everyone differently and can remain in a person’s system much longer than alcohol.
Marijuana is the most prevalent drug in teenagers and young adults involved in crashes in Florida.