Do you know how many people are killed every year on Florida roads due to drunk driving accidents? Would you be shocked to learn that one out of every four traffic deaths in Florida is alcohol related? While drunk driving has decreased significantly in the last three decades, alcohol related accidents continue to be a serious public safety issue.
A South Florida woman who had been out drinking with co-workers tweeted about being too drunk to care minutes before she was involved in a 2013 wrong-way collision that killed two young women. The at fault driver whose blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit recently received a sentence of 24 years in prison, according to The Tampa Tribune.
In mid June, an alleged drunk driver, driving a Dodge pickup the wrong way at high speed on 20th Street West in Bradenton, seriously injured a 22-year-old woman in a head-on collision, then struck a parked car and eventually crashed into a house, causing two walls to collapse, according to a Tampa Tribune report. The driver was charged with DUI with serious bodily injury and driving without a license resulting in injury.
When drivers are too drunk to care and drive with reckless disregard for safety, only measures that may physically prevent them from operating a vehicle may stop a serious accident.
This is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to try something different.
The NHTSA is supporting new technology that could prevent people from driving drunk. It is called Driver Alcohol Detection System (DADSS), and if used nationwide, the Department of Transportation thinks it could save 7,000 or more lives every year.
DADSS works like a breathalyzer hooked up to a vehicle. Before someone can drive, it takes a sample of his or her breath and does an analysis to see if there is any alcohol present. If the driver is over the legal limit, the car will immediately shut down. The driver will not even be able to turn the car on at that point.
While similar ignition interlock devices are currently being used in Florida on the vehicles of first time convicted DUI offenders whose blood alcohol level was. .15 or greater and on repeat offenders, the new technology is intended to be installed as standard equipment on every new car. The system is still being developed, but experts believe by the end of the decade it will be a standard feature in all new cars manufactured.
Mark Rosekind, the administrator of the NHTSA said a great deal of work remained to be done on the technology, but the support from Congress and industry has helped us achieve key research and development milestones.
While it could save lives as soon as it’s ready, the equipment and installation would cost around $200.
While DADSS may still be years away from being a regular component in cars, states are doing what they can to curb drunk driving, including passing tougher laws. A recent report by WalletHub examined the DUI laws in all 50 states to see which ones are the harshest. It was discovered that Arizona has the strictest laws when it comes to driving under the influence, and South Dakota has the most lenient. Florida was right in the middle of the pack, ranked at 21.
Drivers who are too drunk to care should be held accountable for the harm they cause. If a drunk driver in the Tampa Bay area has harmed you or your loved one, contact a knowledgeable drunk driving accident lawyer about your legal options.