Tougher DUI Laws Possible in Florida

By: Kavontae Smalls Email
By: Kavontae Smalls Email

Panama City -- The House Economic Affairs Committee unanimously passed the bill (HB681 / SB864) Wednesday that will make life more costly and inconvenient for people convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). 15 states have laws similar to the bills going through the Florida legislature.

Current Florida law requires anyone convicted of a DUI that either has a minor in the car, is involved in an accident or has a blood alcohol level over .15 to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. This new proposal would require the device for anyone convicted of DUI.

Derek Collins was previously convicted of DUI and is a recovering alcoholic, and he says the interlock device has been a learning experience.

“I think it will be a really good deterrent for alcohol. You get this one time, you really don’t want it again” said Derek Collins.

Collins has to blow into the interlock device and pass it before he can start the ignition of his car. If the new bill passes, even first time offenders will have to have the device installed for atleast three months.

“If it’s going to prevent an individual from driving while impaired then, I’m all for it” said Mary Cruel, DUI Evaluator.

Cruel works with DUI offenders. She believes if more people were educated on the consequences of drinking and driving, they’d be less likely to get behind the wheel after a few drinks.

“The interlock for three months that will just enhance that learning experience, yes I do believe that would prevent continued impaired driving” said Cruel.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is also supporting the legislation.

“Hopefully it helps with behavior modification, with people who don’t think they have an issue with drinking, maybe this shows them that they do” said Kristen Allen, State Victim Services Manager, MADD.

The interlock device can subject the driver to blow into it at random even while the car is in motion, and if the driver fails once the car is turned off it will not start again for several hours. The cost of ignition interlock devices average between $50 - $200 to install and carry a monthly fee of $50 - $100 dollars for the duration of the court order. Add that to the cost of a DUI fine. For first time offenders pay close to $1,000 dollars, and those with a blood alcohol level of more than .15, the fine jumps to $2,000 dollars.

The bill now goes to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

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  • by William Location: Fountain on Mar 1, 2012 at 09:34 PM
    DUI is a huge money maker for the state. The state government is doing anything it can to suck more money out of people whether is is for drunk driving, fishing, septic tanks, contracting, or anything else. Where and when will it end? The law is already tough enough.
  • by Rick Location: Youngstown on Feb 27, 2012 at 05:31 AM
    Dui is a problem but this probaly is not going to help much in panama city beach where we have so many out of state people drinking and driving. Why not build some sidewalks and bikepaths because that seems to be where more are killed in our area. Maybe lawmakers could toughen those laws....
  • by Robert Location: Florida on Feb 24, 2012 at 10:41 PM
    Re: A sober person blowing into the device for a drunk should be suject to the same penalties. Or maybe he's nuts. Besides the Drunk Driver may still be caught as the are now, by observation!
  • by Dave F Location: Altha on Feb 23, 2012 at 06:37 AM
    What prevents someone else from blowing in the device? Another money maker for the State
  • by Neil Location: Panama City Beach on Feb 23, 2012 at 04:57 AM
    We really don't need new laws. We need consistent enforcement of existing laws.
  • by David Location: pcb on Feb 23, 2012 at 04:31 AM
    It must be election time again!
  • by debbie lange Location: PANAMA CITY on Feb 23, 2012 at 04:31 AM
    There are too many innocent people being killed everyday because of drunk drivers. This tougher penality will maybe keep drunk drivers off the road but still they can borrow a friends car and drive drunk. There also needs to be a mandatory jail time for those caught driving with a revoked license because of a DUI.
  • by MissMayhem Location: Panama City on Feb 22, 2012 at 10:28 PM
    Those with addictions and problems with alcoholism will find ways to usurp this means of deterant. The fact that alcohol is sold openly in unlimited quantities and that there are no limits imposed at mose drinking establishments means that DUI's will continue to be a problem. Even with all of the exposure and media campaigns, DUI's are more numerous than ever and the number of DUI deaths has not decreased. These laws do not address the root of the problem. Addiction and Access!
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