In 2020, there were 746 fatalities from crashes involving alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both in Florida – a decrease of more than 33% from 2019. Even though impaired-driving fatalities decreased last year, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is not letting off the gas for impaired-driving education and prevention efforts in 2021.
Throughout the month of March, when Florida traditionally sees an increase in travel and visitors due to spring break, FLHSMV and its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) are leading the Never Drive Impaired campaign in partnership with state agencies and safety organizations across Florida to remind motorists that there is never an excuse to drive impaired. The campaign aims to reduce impaired-driving crashes and fatalities through education and prevention messaging, including creative graphic elements that squash the common misconceptions and rationalizations that many motorists use to justify impaired driving.
“Choosing to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have serious, life-altering consequences. You can hurt yourself. You can hurt others,” said FLHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “Keep our roads, loved ones, and yourself safe by pledging to Never Drive Impaired. No Excuses.”
“The tragedies caused by impaired drivers on our roadways haunt the families who will never have the chance to hug their loved ones again,” said Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “If you are impaired in any capacity, don’t drive – no excuses.”
Under Florida law, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or an unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of the manner in which the offense is proven. Drivers under the age of 21 with a blood alcohol level of 0.02 percent or more will have their license immediately suspended for six months for a first offense. A second offense will result in a one-year suspension.
“As Florida welcomes visitors this spring and throughout the year, we urge everyone to never drive impaired while enjoying our state’s scenic destinations,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. “There is never an excuse to put other lives at risk. Always drive sober or use a ride share service so everyone can stay safe.”
“Florida enjoys an influx of young people each spring to enjoy our beautiful beaches and theme parks. To keep our residents and guests safe, the Florida Sheriffs Association will be partnering with the Florida Highway Patrol and the Florida Police Chiefs Association to educate the public about the dangers of impaired driving. As the president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, I fully endorse the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Never Drive Impaired campaign,” said Sheriff Bobby Schultz, President of, Florida Sheriffs Association.
“Florida remains a top destination for both domestic and international visitors, and Florida’s hospitality industry loves to provide them with safe and memorable guest experiences,” said Carol Dover, President, and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “The Never Drive Impaired campaign, regularly highlighted during traditional Spring Break periods which may look different this year, is an important reminder about responsible alcohol service, which reduces impaired driving. We urge establishments across our industry to continue their safe and smart operations, and we are proud of our Members who work to do this every single shift.”
“Celebrating safely must always include a sober ride home for all involved,” said Matt Nasworthy, Florida Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Plan before you party and never drive impaired.”