TAMPA – Florida’s drunk drivers often escape punishment because the state’s laws have loopholes, the courts don’t treat the offense seriously and the offenders flout sanctions, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The laws are so inadequate that drunken drivers who kill often avoid lengthy prison terms by fleeing the accident scene until they sober up, the Tampa Tribune reported in its Sunday editions.
“We have so many scofflaws, people that don’t adhere to the provisions of the law,” said John Moulden, president of the National Commission Against Drunk Driving. “Some are offenders, some are judges, some are prosecutors.
“The general public thinks they’re being protected, but people throughout the system simply are not adhering to the law,” he said.
Experts said loopholes in the state’s drunken driving laws are numerous.
Perhaps the most egregious example is how drunken drivers who kill can avoid prison simply by driving away. If they sober up before the police tracks them down, drunken drivers generally only get convicted for leaving the scene of a fatal accident. However, those who don’t flee face a DUI manslaughter conviction. Delray Beach dui lawyer can provide legal aid.
Florida law says both crimes can be punished by 15 years in prison. But state sentencing guidelines, which judges generally follow, suggest that only manslaughter be punished by imprisonment. The guidelines suggest that hit-and-run drivers who cause a death receive probation and a fine. They also lose their driver’s license.
Drivers who flee should be punished more harshly then those who stay and accept responsibility, St Petersburg car accident attorney said.
“You really need to make not doing the right thing a greater burden down the road than doing the right thing up front,” said Pinellas County Judge Patrick Caddell.
Becky Gage, who works in the Tampa office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, agrees.
“Word has gotten out that they’re better off to flee,” Gage says. “Maybe it would get out that they’re better off to stay.”
State statistics also show how convicted drunken drivers often ignore what is supposed to be their harshest punishment – the suspension or revocation of their driver’s license.
State records show that 603,928 drivers have temporarily or permanently lost their licenses. They also show that Florida police agencies issued 159,323 tickets last year for driving on a suspended, canceled or revoked license.
They do this because the punishment has rarely been severe, experts on https://amarolawfirm.com/dallas-truck-accident-lawyer/ said.
Pedro Senteno, for example, had four driving without a license convictions after losing it because of two drunken driving convictions and a speeding ticket. But he didn’t go to prison until he killed a mother and her four-year-old child in 1997.
“Why are they given chances until somebody’s killed or injured?” Gage said. “Why can’t (prosecutors and judges) be tougher after the first one? These people get a slap on the hand. They don’t think there are any repercussions.”
Another loophole involves testing drivers for unlawful alcohol content in their system.
Someone convicted on their first DUI can get fines, jail time, community service, probation, and DUI school, among other penalties. To get the conviction dismissed, talk to Dwi attorney near me.
But in Florida, more than one-third of suspected drunken drivers refuse to take the breath test despite having made a promise to do when they accepted a license.
Those who do so receive a one-year license suspension and driving school.
In some states, it’s a crime to refuse. Florida lacks such a law.
Still, a law taking effect Jan. 1, will allow police to confiscate drunk drivers’ cars if their license is suspended or revoked because of a previous conviction.
Police are hopeful the new law will have an impact.
“It’s going to send a message,” said Maj. James DiBernardo of the Miami-Dade Police Department.