Florida receives 4 stars for drunk driving prevention measures

Florida received a four-star rating for its efforts in preventing drunk driving across the state.

Recently, Mothers Against Drunk Driving issued a report focused on the states' efforts to reduce drunk driving rates across the country. The researchers gave each state a rating, on a five-star scale. For the fifth year in a row, Florida received a four-star rating.

The report - called the 2015 Report to the Nation - evaluated whether states had taken action in five key areas involving impaired driving. MADD refers to these as "proven DUI countermeasures." They include:

•· Installing ignition interlock devices for all people convicted of drunk driving

•· Using sobriety checkpoints

•· Implementing enhanced penalties for intoxicated individuals who drive with children in the car

•· Employing "no-refusal" activities

•· Revoking driver's licenses

In Florida, lawmakers have ensured that four of these five conditions have been met across the state. Currently, the state does not pass muster when it comes to ignition interlock device requirements, according to the report.

Repeat drunk driving offenders are required to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles in Florida. In addition, first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or more must install the devices.

The law in Florida does not require all first-time offenders to install an ignition interlock device, however. Although the law does not require it, judges were recently granted the authority to require the installation of an ignition interlock device for first-time offenders with a BAC between 0.08 and 0.14 percent to avoid their vehicle being impounded for 10 days. Nevertheless, the law could be stricter according to MADD, resulting in the four-star rating.

Drunk driving remains a serious issue in Florida

While Florida may have stepped up its efforts to reduce the drunk driving problem throughout the state, impaired drivers continue to pose a serious risk on our roads.

Last year, 676 people died in auto accidents caused by drunk drivers, according to MADD. Those deaths accounted for over 28 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state that year.

Similar statistics have been seen across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2012, over 10,300 people died in drunk driving accidents across the country. In total, those fatalities accounted for over 30 percent of all traffic deaths in the United States that year.

When a motorist makes the poor decision to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, he or she must be held accountable for the damage done to others when an auto accident results. People who have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by an impaired driver should take steps to protect their interests. Consulting with a skilled personal injury attorney is a wise first step.

Keywords: Florida, drunk driving