While in many respects, Florida is just as tough on drunk driving as other states, recent stories about drunk drivers causing severe accidents have highlighted a loophole in Florida’s laws that allows drunk drivers to immediately return to the streets even after an arrest.
In Florida, a person who refuses to submit to a chemical test after being pulled over on suspicion of DUI or who has a test that shows they are over the .08 legal limit will face an administrative license suspension. However, before the suspension goes into effect, the person by law gets the benefit of a 10-day temporary license.
Moreover, the law technically does not impose a suspension on all drivers who are suspected of drunk driving. For instance, in one recent notorious case, a repeat drunk driver and long-term criminal were able to escape an administrative license suspension even though he was charged with a DUI in Florida.
This was because while the officer maintained he had exhibited unsafe, drunken behavior while behind the wheel, the man blew a .71 on his test.
Tragically, the morning set for one of his court dates in his pending case, this man traveled the wrong way on a bridge and caused a head-on collision. The man died in this recent crash and also severely injured the driver of the other vehicle involved. Authorities suspect he had been drinking and driving again.
Hopefully, there will be some discussion about how to reform this law to make it less likely that drunk drivers will legally be allowed back on the roads. Until that time, victims of drunk drivers and their families can also do their part to hold drunk drivers accountable by demanding that they pay full compensation for any injuries they cause in drunk driving accidents.
An award of punitive damages is also a realistic possibility in the case of a repeat drunk driver causing an accident.