One February night in 2006, two young women, best friends since kindergarten, leave a club in St. Petersburg, Florida. Within a few minutes, the car veers off the road and into a tree. The woman driving is drunk. The woman in the passenger seat is dead. Both families' lives are changed forever.
The sad facts
This is just one drunk driving casualty out of more than 8,400 in Florida since 2003. In the United States, someone is killed in a drunk driving accident every 40 minutes. Nationwide, about one in three traffic deaths involves an alcohol impaired driver. Countless more are injured in drunk driving accidents.
In Florida, the story is no different. In fact, per capita drunk driving deaths in Florida exceed the national average by more than 15 percent.
An even more frightening statistic was revealed in a survey in which more than 2 percent of all Florida drivers reported driving after drinking too much. Considering the volume of cars on the road in the 4th most populous state in the US, that represents a lot of danger on the roads and highways of the sunshine state.
The legal side
Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher are considered alcohol impaired. In Florida, a first conviction brings a fine of $500-$1000 and up to nine months in prison. The offender's vehicle will be impounded for 10 days following the first conviction and his/her license will be suspended for a period of 180 days to one year. Subsequent convictions carry stiffer penalties in terms of fines, loss of license, and prison time. For example, a fourth conviction leads to permanent loss of license and up to five years in prison.
If you are a victim
If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, receiving compensation for injuries, medical bills, and lost wages can be a difficult hill to climb. Most insurance policies offer to cover only a small percentage of the expense. In fact, many insurance policies exert pressure to accept an early settlement. An experienced attorney can help you navigate through the labyrinth of the legal system and receive fair compensation for your injuries.