~Nothing kills a buzz like drunk driving~
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.– The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is spreading the message this March that as people celebrate spring break in Florida, not to drive drunk.
With record population numbers and a record number of visitors, Florida’s beautiful beaches and tourist attractions lure thousands of spring breakers every year, but bad decisions about drugs and alcohol can change lives forever. DHSMV reminds everyone to be safe as they celebrate their spring break. Throughout the month of March, law enforcement agencies will be out enforcing the state’s drinking age laws and working to keep impaired drivers off the roads.
“Spring break is a welcome and exciting celebration for many students and families, but driving impaired can change that in an instant,” said DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “With record numbers of motorists on Florida roads, we remind drivers to designate a sober driver or call a service to pick you up.”
Preliminary data shows that in March of 2015, there were more than 32,000 crashes statewide, at least 400 involved drivers who registered alcohol levels above the legal limit, resulting in 230 injuries and more than 35 fatalities. In Florida last year, more than ten percent of all teen crashes in March involved alcohol. In fact, drivers under 21 accounted for over 383 crashes involving alcohol in Florida in 2015, resulting in 234 injuries and 30 fatalities.
“The Florida Highway Patrol is enhancing its enforcement efforts this month, with an emphasis on impaired drivers,” said Colonel Gene Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “This spring break, enjoy your time in Florida, but celebrate responsibly and think twice before you drink and drive. Be responsible, don’t drink and drive.”
Since 2012, more DUI citations are issued in March than in any other month of the year. Driving impaired not only puts everyone on the roadways in danger, but drivers should also know that Florida’s tough DUI laws have stiff penalties including fines, license revocation, community service, ignition interlock devices and jail time.
Establishments that sell or serve alcohol are licensed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (DBPR) Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. The division is responsible for enforcing the state’s beverage law, including the legal drinking age. During the spring break months, DBPR partners with state and local law enforcement agencies to combat both underage drinking and the sale of alcoholic beverages to underage persons.
“The state’s legal drinking age is in place to better protect Florida residents and their guests,” said DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson. “When underage persons make the decision to possess or drink alcohol, the fun of spring break can quickly turn into a dangerous situation. We are committed to ensuring that alcohol stays out of the hands of individuals under the legal drinking age and that Florida establishments remain in compliance with the Florida Beverage Law during spring break.”
Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Boxold said, “We are proud to partner with law enforcement to reduce drunk driving and keep our roads safe. With many visitors and residents enjoying our beautiful beaches during Spring Break, we would like to remind them to drive sober and don’t text and drive.”
“The number one goal of the Florida Sheriffs Association is to protect Florida’s future through programs focused on the safety of the youth of our state. As the President of the Florida Sheriffs Association, and on behalf of our Florida Sheriffs, I fully endorse and support the Florida Highway Patrol’s Spring Break initiative of Driving While Impaired enforcement.” Sheriff Sadie Darnell, Alachua County Sheriff
“During the spring, we see thousands of guests visit our state to enjoy themselves, but a DUI doesn’t just ruin the party – it can destroy lives,” said Winter Park Police Chief Brett Railey, President of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “The FPCA fully supports this cooperative initiative to protect our residents and guests.”
“With 20 million residents and more than 1.8 million visitors in Florida on any given day, it is imperative that we all work together with law enforcement to spread the message that drinking and driving is no way to enjoy an incredible Sunshine State spring break experience,” said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA.
“Here in Florida, the health and safety of our guests is a top priority,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. Founded in 1984 and a subsidiary of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA), Regulatory Compliance Services (RCS) is Florida’s leader in providing risk management and regulatory compliance training programs to the state’s hospitality industry. “We encourage businesses to cultivate safe environments and ensure that patrons enjoy their experiences while traveling around our great state. As Florida’s premier provider of responsible alcohol vendor training, we are dedicated to risk management and strongly recommend that businesses and patrons take precaution during the spring break season.”