Much has been made of the “drunk driving epidemic” by lawmakers, prosecutors and law enforcement officials. Local and state governments continuously institute costly anti-drunk driving campaigns in an effort to constantly remind drivers of the dangers of drunk driving and the consequences of a DUI. Escaping legal recourse for a DUI, these campaigns assert, is nearly impossible.
But just how prevalent is the impaired driving phenomenon? It’s difficult to gauge without empirical numbers. We dug through government records to bring you the following telling statistics.
Florida DMV records indicate that in the 2011 calendar year there were 33,625 DUI convictions in the state of Florida, as well as 55,722 DUI related tickets issued to drivers.
Information compiled from the DMV for the 2010 calendar year indicates the following number of DUI convictions in each major Florida county (ranked from greatest to least):
1) Hillsborough County (Tampa) – 3,256
2) Miami-Dade County (Miami) – 2,274
3) Duval County (Jacksonville) – 2,222
4) Pinellas County (St. Petersburg) – 1,824
5) Palm Beach County (West Palm Beach) – 1,561
6) Orange County (Orlando) – 1,383
7) Brevard County (Melbourne) – 1,072
8) Broward County (Fort Lauderdale) – 985
Although records do not indicate whether these convictions were for first or repeated offenses, it is important to note that Florida requires mandatory ignition interlock devices be installed in the vehicles of offenders for the 2nd conviction and beyond. Installation of a device may be mandated for a first offense if the judge in the case deems it necessary.
In 2010, the total number of alcohol-related deaths in traffic accidents was 660, down 27% from the previous year. 61 of these fatalities involved victims under the age of 21.
The decrease in DUI convictions and related fatalities over the last several years is likely due to stepped-up enforcement efforts and stringent penalties being put into place by lawmakers. Because law enforcement efforts seem to be garnering results, the tough on DUI trend is likely to continue in the future.