The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is launching a campaign that aims to keep impaired drivers off the roadways.
Driving while impaired has consequences that negatively impact thousands of Floridians each year. According to the FLHSMV, impaired-driving crashes resulted in 800 deaths in Florida last year.
Throughout the month of March, when Florida becomes a spring destination for many travelers, the FLHSMV and the Florida Highway Patrol are launching an impaired-driving awareness campaign that looks to reduce impaired driving-related crashes and fatalities throughout the state.
The message of the campaign, Never Drive Impaired, looks to tackle the common misconceptions that many people have when it comes to the subject of impairment behind the steering wheel.
FLHSMV executive director Terry L. Rhodes said, “Impaired drivers make many excuses for their decisions, but be under no illusion. The impacts are real and affect real people. Please help keep our roads and loved ones safe by putting the keys away if you or someone you know is impaired.”
In March of 2021, alcohol was confirmed in 442 crashes in Florida. This was a 26% increase from the previous year. Out of the alcohol-confirmed crashes in March of 2021, there were 43 fatalities and 50 individuals who sustained serious bodily injuries.
Unlike alcohol, there is no specific impairment limit with marijuana since the drug affects everyone differently and can remain in a person’s system for a much longer period than alcohol. In Florida, marijuana is the most prevalent drug in teenagers and young adults who are involved in crashes. The prevalence of marijuana begins to decrease at 25 years of age or older, according to data from the FLHSMV.
Each year, the month of March typically sees the highest total of citations issued for driving under the influence and open-container violations. In March of 2021, there were 3,039 DUI citations and 808 open-container citations issued in Florida.
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.
FHP director Colonel Gene S. Spaulding said, “FHP troopers will be out in force this spring break protecting the public from impaired drivers, so use good judgment and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Before you take your first drink, plan ahead and make sure you have a designated driver or service. We want you to make it home safely without needlessly endangering others or yourself.”
Law enforcement officers and troopers 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 the roadways safe, it is also every driver’s responsibility to do their part.
For more information on the types of impairment, campaign resources, data, and more, visit the FLHSMV Impaired Driving webpage.