Will This Florida Drunk Driving Crash Prompt New Interlock Laws?

Florida drunk driving It’s inevitable that police officers will be hurt or killed in the line of duty, and it’s especially sad when they are attempting to rescue an innocent person from crash site. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for police officers to be killed or injured while helping others, and one Florida drunk driving crash has claimed another victim.

It happened in Miami-Dade County in the early hours. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper was at the scene of a crash. While he was standing at the scene another car hit one of the crashed cars and the impact sent the other crashed car straight into the officer.

The officer was hit and landed a distance away from the cars. He was left with serious injuries. The driver who caused the second crash was given a breathalyzer test and was found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .201. That’s almost triple the legal limit of .08.  After an investigation of the crash police arrested him on a Florida drunk driving charge and DUI causing damage.

Thankfully the officer will recover from his injuries, but other police officers haven’t been as lucky. Officer Noah Leotta of Maryland was working a DUI check stop when a car crashed into him. The impact ended his life. Leotta’s death was one of the reasons why Maryland was spurred to pass an all offender ignition interlock law.

An ignition interlock device is a device that requires all drunk driving offenders, including first time offenders with a BAC of .08 or higher, to blow an alcohol-free sample before they can start the car. It’s been proven that all offender ignition interlock laws save lives and prevent thousands of people from driving after they attempt to start their cars.

Could this crash mean that Florida will begin a serious effort to pass such a law in the sunshine state? Florida has let an all offender ignition interlock law die before it came to a final vote on more than one occasion, but all it takes is one serious drunk driving case to motivate lawmakers to get behind a new bill. Will this be the case for Florida?

Suspected Drunk Driver Crashes Into Amish Buggy In Minnesota

suspected drunk driverYou can’t argue with the reasons behind stronger ignition interlock laws, especially in states like Minnesota. They’ve had a serious problem with drunk drivers and drunk driving crashes for a long time, and because of the large Amish population in the state, it’s not just cars, trucks, and vans that have to worry about getting hit by a suspected drunk driver.

It happens more often than you might think: an Amish buggy is traveling down the road in the early hours of the evening when a car crashes into it from behind. When that happened in Clearwater County recently, the suspected drunk driver plowed straight into the back of the horse-drawn buggy, and because a buggy doesn’t have the built-in protection a vehicle has because it’s made of steel and glass, the passenger was killed and the driver was hospitalized with serious injuries. The horse was also put down.

The driver left the scene and was picked up shortly after, and police noted he had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. He’s since been charged with criminal vehicular homicide. That’s a felony in Minnesota.

It’s for crashes exactly like these, however out of the ordinary it may seem to hear of a drunk driver hitting a buggy, that Minnesota toughened up their DWI laws to include an updated ignition interlock law. Alcohol-related crashes are responsible for one-third of all traffic deaths in the state, and an Amish horse-drawn buggy that shares the road with other vehicles is considered a part of that.

If you’re a first-time DWI offender in Minnesota and you blow 0.16 or higher on a breathalyzer at the time of arrest, you’ll be required to install an ignition interlock in your vehicle. Any second-time drunk driving offender will need to install an interlock for one to two years, and if you have three or more offenses you’ll be using your interlock for three to six years. If you have that many offenses on your record, the only alternate is never driving again.

All tragic crashes, whether they involve two vehicles or a horse and buggy, are exactly why Minnesota strengthened interlock laws. The next logical step to keep everyone in the state safe is to pass an all offender ignition interlock law that restricts suspected drunk drivers after a conviction at the .08 level.

Let’s hope that happens soon.

After DUI crash, Victim Has A Bittersweet Ending

DUI crash

Image from Today.com

There aren’t many happy endings after a DUI crash, and when the dust settles the people involved in the crash are either killed, injured, or arrested for drunk driving. But despite his injuries one victim of a DUI crash that occurred in East Vail, Colorado had a bittersweet ending, and now a man and his dog are both alive and have just been reunited.

Chance Patterson was driving home after work with his two dogs in the car; a German Shepard named Carlitos and a pit bull named Izzy. They had been at a doggy daycare and Patterson had just picked them up. The next thing he knew a drunk driver had crashed into him after crossing the center lane, totaling his car and leaving him with serious injuries. When he asked whether or not his dogs lived through the crash he was told that Carlitos had died at the scene and Izzy was nowhere to be found.

He was taken to the hospital with several broken bones and a lacerated lung, so he couldn’t go out and search for Izzy. That’s when the East Vail community kicked into overdrive looking for the dog, and as volunteers searched there were several reports of people spotting the frightened pit bull.

Thankfully the owner of the doggie daycare Izzy frequents went out to look for her too, and when she called out to her, Izzy was happy to see a familiar face. She survived the crash and only had a sprained toe, and she stayed with a friend until Patterson was released from the hospital and he and Izzy were reunited.

Despite his injuries and the fact that one of his dogs was killed, Patterson says he has no ill will toward the drunk driver. Although specifics about the drunk driver’s charges aren’t known, if she’s convicted for the DUI crash and she’s a first offender she could receive at a minimum up to one year in jail, community service hours, driver’s license suspension for at least nine months, and an ignition interlock when she qualifies to have her license reinstated.

It’s tragic that he lost one dog, but if you asked him Chance Patterson would tell you that being reunited with Izzy is definitely a happy ending after experiencing the horror of a DUI crash.

Florida Woman Reports Drunk Driver, Gets Crashed Into Herself

report a drunk driverPolice encourage concerned citizens to report a drunk driver by dialing 911, but there are always a few warnings attached: driving behind or beside someone who is driving drunk can be extremely dangerous, so when you decide to report a drunk driver you should keep a safe distance, describe the landmarks around you, and always defer to the dispatcher’s advice about what to do once you’ve relayed the information.

A woman in Fort Myers, Florida might be wishing she’d done just that after she called in to report a drunk driver recently. She dialed 911 around two in the afternoon after spotting someone who was driving erratically, and she and her two passengers followed along behind the driver for nine minutes while her friend filmed the suspected drunk driver for Facebook Live.

After they witnessed the drunk driver crash into a bridge wall on a busy highway, they decided to pull the car right in front of the drunk driver’s car to stop her from crashing into someone. When she did that she made the drunk driver put on the brakes and stop right in the center of the road, but instead of stoppping she drove her car straight into the witness’s vehicle.

It’s tragic irony that the person who reported her for drunk driving was crashed into by that very same driver, and thankfully no one was seriously injured. For her part the drunk driver was charged with driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, driving without insurance, and careless driving.

The witness was praised by police for calling 911, but they’d like to send out a strong advisory to anyone who might be tempted to do the same thing: it’s dangerous to stop a drunk driver on your own, so get the license plate, location, and any other information on the vehicle, but don’t put your life at risk trying to prevent them from driving.

A Drunk Driving Crash In California You’ll Never Forget

drunk driving crash in California California has a lot of drunk driving crashes, and they happen so frequently there that you couldn’t possibly remember all of them unless one of them involved you or someone you know. But there’s one drunk driving crash in California that happened back in 2012 that, if you heard of it, you literally couldn’t forget it.

One night in 2012 a substance-abuse counselor named Sherri Lynn Wilkins had downed several drinks before she got behind the wheel. As she was driving through Torrence, California she struck a man with such force that he became embedded in the windshield of her car and stayed there.

She didn’t stop driving once the man became attached to her window either. Instead she continued driving on for two more miles and only stopped her car because she slowed at a stop light and other motorists noticed she had a body face down on her hood.  The crash is all the more ironic because the offender is a substance-abuse counselor.

Now, five years later, she’s finally been sentenced for two drunk driving charges and a second-degree murder charge. How many years does an offender get in jail for such a horrific drunk driving crash in California? In this case Wilkins was found guilty in 2014, had her case thrown out in appeals court, and then made the decision to plead no contest and received twenty five years to life in prison. This was a significant decrease from her first sentence of fifty five years to life.

It’s a stiff sentence for a drunk driving crash, but you have to admit this is a drunk driving crash no one could possibly forget. It just goes to show how strong the power of alcohol is, and how deadly a car can really be when someone is under the influence of it.

Alcohol Related Crashes In Florida Aren’t Stopping Without Interlocks

alcohol related crashes in FloridaOut of all the states in the USA, Florida really does have one of the worst reputations for drunk driving, mostly because of the number of alcohol related crashes in Florida. Not only are crashes frequent, but they tend to veer away from a small fender bender into crashes that result in severe injury or death.

Port Richey

Alcohol related crashes like one that just happened in Port Richey happen all the time in Florida, but that doesn’t make it any less tragic when people die because someone made the careless choice to drink and drive. That’s why a 65-year-old woman died when a vehicle crashed into the back of her vehicle after he tried to over take her. Thanks to a drunk driver driving at double the legal blood alcohol content (BAC), both vehicles involved left the road, and the woman died from her injuries.

Coral Springs

Crashes that alcohol related crashes in Florida tend to involve speed, and one crash in Coral Springs is no exception. The drunk driver was going 100 mph when he crashed into the back of another vehicle and caused a fiery explosion. One nineteen year old man died when he was ejected from the vehicle, and others were injured.

When police obtained the drunk driver’s BAC they found he was driving at double the legal limit. He’s been charged with DUI that causes death, DUI that causes serious bodily injury and reckless driving.

These are just two alcohol related crashes in Florida, and there are many more every week. That’s why it’s time Florida got smart and passed an all offender ignition interlock law, and with House Bill 949 on the table, it might finally be that time for the sunshine state.

Friday Fallout: Drunk Drivers And Victim Blaming? It Happens.

drunk drivers TexasWhat would happen if all drunk drivers blamed their victims? What if, although the driver was responsible for drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel, and they alone started the car, drove, and crashed into someone, they somehow decided that their victim was to blame for the crash.

You can imagine the devastation felt by the family members of the victim. It’s hard to believe that anyone would do that given the evidence to the contrary. Unfortunately that’s exactly what’s happening in Bryan, Texas.

On October 17th Maria Ramirez was driving down the highway when an alleged drunk driver hit her while entering the highway from an exit ramp. She died from her injuries, and the drunk driver was taken to jail. He’s still there, but he hasn’t been charged yet.

friday-falloutIn response to the crash, Ramirez’s family decided to launch a civil suit against the driver. In any civil suit the person being served has a chance to reply and he did so, stating in a legal document that the crash and the subsequent damages were the fault of Maria Ramirez.

It’s an open court case and the decision could go either way, but it’s safe to say that the counter-claim would be devastating to the family. It’s hard enough to lose your loved one because someone made the careless choice to drink and drive, but to also have to experience a lengthy trial and have to fight over who’s to blame? It’s rubbing salt in a wound that will never heal.

Texas has more than it’s fair share of drunk drivers, and once these drivers cause a crash they’d probably do almost anything to forget about it and resume their lives. Unfortunately for both the driver and the victim, you can’t take it back once you make the decision to drink and drive. If the driver in this case was driving drunk and he successfully manages to blame the victim in a court of law, it’s sets a dangerous precedent for all drivers in Texas.

This week in DUI: Drunk Driver Pedestrian Crashes Becoming Too Common

drunk driver pedestrian There aren’t a lot of things you can guarantee in life, but you can put money on the fact that every week that goes by, someone will make the choice to drink and drive. That’s despite the fact that there are drunk driving and ignition interlock laws designed to prevent people from making that choice.

Somehow it doesn’t seem as people are taking these laws seriously, because here are just a few of the drunk driving cases, with a strong trend toward drunk driver pedestrian crashes, from around the USA this past week.

Clarksburg, West Virginia

You might think that most drunk drivers are stopped at checkpoints or pulled over by police, but a lot of them are finally stopped because they crash. It’s really all too easy to injure someone when you’re driving drunk, and a 55-year-old man from West Virginia did just that when his truck hit two pedestrians. He’d been driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .102 when he struck the women, and although one was transferred and released, the other individuals’ condition is unknown.

Rochester, New York

There’s a lot of reasons why New York State has ignition interlocks for all offenders, but driving while intoxicated (DWI) crashes like the one in Rochester recently are at the top of the list. Anyone driving on an Interstate already knows how dangerous they are, but one drunk driver got on that Interstate, crossed several lanes, and went over a concrete barrier near the city’s inner loop.

Given the high volume of cars on a ramp, it’s unbelievable that no one else was injured or killed in the crash. The driver only suffered minor injuries.

McHenry, Arizona

It just goes to show, drunk driver pedestrian crashes are all too common. Just like the crash in West Virginia, an Arizona man struck two pedestrians simply trying to cross the street. Thankfully both people injured are in stable condition, but the driver has been charged with DWI. Given that Arizona is one of the strictest states for DWI and has an all offender ignition interlock law, his future holds serious drunk driving penalties.

Drinking and driving is a choice, a deliberate criminal act, and there are serious consequences to getting behind the wheel while drunk. Until people realize that, we’re going to keep seeing crashes like these every single week.

Traffic Crashes Were On The Rise For 2015, But Why?

NHTSA Traffic CrashesWhen it comes to traffic crashes in the United States, the decline is over. Or at least that’s what recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is showing.

It might be hard to believe when you read the news and see how many people are crashing every day, but over the past fifty years traffic crashes have been declining steadily. The NHTSA has attributed that decline to numerous factors including changing attitudes toward  drunk driving.

Over 35,000 people lost their lives due traffic crashes in 2015, and new data has shown these numbers are a 7.2% increase in traffic crashes in 2014. Thankfully this number is still lower than ten years ago when over 42,000 people died, but it’s getting closer and the fact that it’s no longer declining has the NHTSA worried.

The organization does have a few ideas as to why the numbers have taken a jump, and one of the reasons is fuel prices. They’ve been low across the board and they continue to stay low while job growth has been on an upswing. That means more people out for road trips, weekends away, and other excursions, and that equals more traffic crashes.

Now that they’ve got hard numbers to look at, the NHTSA is partnering with the White House and issuing a call to action. They want to find out exactly why this increase has occurred, and when they know they’ll share the information with relevant people and organizations via the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

When they are looking at the data for drunk driving, the NHTSA might want to take a look at ignition interlock compliance. Although the device is now required for first offenders in many states, there’s no hard numbers on how many people are complying with the court order to use their ignition interlock. That means there are a lot of drivers on the roads causing crashes when they should be driving with an ignition interlock.

It’s good news that the NHTSA is looking at this jump and taking action quickly. Maybe they’ll be able to identify why these traffic crashes are happening and stop these senseless deaths before it really gets out of hand.

The States To Watch For Teen Alcohol-Related Crashes

teen alcohol related crashesThat countdown until you’re 16 years old can feel like forever, and once you have your driver’s license, finally getting to experience the freedom to drive is an exciting thing for a teen driver. Unfortunately there are a lot of teen drivers who never make it out of their teens, and its all because they end up in an alcohol-related crashes that take their lives before they’ve really lived them.

According to WalletHub, the summer season is when a lot of teens are getting their driver’s license for the first time. Coincidentally, the summer season is also when a lot of alcohol-related crashes occur thanks to summer parties and the rush back to school in August. That’s why WalletHub choose this time of year to publish the best and worst state for teen drivers.

New York leads the way as the best state for teen drivers, but they didn’t come in at the top of the heap in all of the categories. The lowest number of teen DUIs per teen population went to Delaware, so if you’re worried about your teen drinking and driving, you may be happy you live in the state. The highest number of teen DUIs per teen population went to Wyoming, and the state appeared second from the bottom of the list overall. The fewest teen fatalities per teen population also went to Delaware, while the most teen fatalities per teen population went to West Virginia.

Some states have graduated licensing (GDL) for teen drivers, and out of all those states Connecticut is the best with at least five of the seven GDL criteria met. The worst is Alabama, meeting only two out of seven GDL criteria.

If you’ve got a teen driver in the house, maybe this data will ease your mind when you hand over the keys. The best course of action you can take is to use information like this to talk with your teen. No amount of statistics are going to make your teen choose correctly when it comes to drinking and driving, but you can make a difference if you have open, honest communication about the dangers of alcohol-related crashes.

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