Have you experienced the trauma of being hit by a drunk driver? DUI accidents are a common occurrence in Tampa. In fact, according to experts at Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, alcohol played a role in almost 500 accidents in Hillsborough County in 2019. Sadly, those statistics don’t seem to be improving.
Tampa Bay has experienced multiple DUI accidents this summer.
Just this summer, our area saw multiple DIU accidents that resulted in fatalities or serious injuries. In July, an intoxicated Winter Haven driver killed two St. Petersburg men when he hit them from behind at 153 mph. Investigators determined that alcohol played a part, and the judge sentenced the driver to 40 years in prison with charges of both vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter.
Just weeks later, on August 31, a driver in Ruskin, FL crashed into a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputy. The deputy’s SUV was damaged in the crash, but the deputy escaped with minor injuries. Again, the driver was impaired and ran a red light, resulting in the accident. With a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.124 and 0.119, the driver was in no shape to operate his car, and this situation could have been much worse.
Each of these accidents, along with hundreds more, exemplifies the dangers of consuming alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Why, then, do so many people choose to do it anyway?
Raising awareness of DUI accidents is the first step in prevention.
Knowing the dangers of drunk driving, and what it looks like, is a big part of changing Tampa’s DUI statistics. We can’t expect drivers to make better choices if they don’t understand what it actually means to drive while impaired.
Many people assume that “just a couple of drinks” won’t constitute a DUI charge if they’re pulled. This is a common misconception. Consuming a specific number of drinks isn’t the key factor. Rather, the amount of alcohol in your blood when you pick up the keys is what affects your ability to function behind the wheel.
In all states, a BAC (blood alcohol level) of 0.08 or more is considered over the legal limit. Getting to this point though looks different for everyone. Your weight, BMI, and even your individual metabolism can determine how drinks affect your body. This means a single glass of wine could affect certain individuals in the same way several beers could affect another.
How do I know if I’m too drunk to drive?
When in doubt, wait it out!
If you have to question your ability to operate your car, chances are you shouldn’t pick up the keys. Generally speaking, if you’ve had more than a single beer or a single serving of wine, you should avoid getting behind the wheel. Obviously, if you feel lightheaded or dizzy, have visual impairment, are unsteady on your feet, or feel “sluggish” when making decisions, you do not need to drive. Doing so puts you, and hundreds of others on the road, at risk. Of course, if you’re reading this, you were probably the victim of someone else driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Preventing this from happening to others depends on recognizing the red flags of a drunk driver.
What does it look like when someone else is driving drunk?
If you’re on the road and you notice drivers:
- swerving and struggling to stay in their lane
- driving slowly (to excess)
- constantly, unnecessarily braking
- displaying erratic behavior (sudden speeding up, frequently changing lanes, etc.)
- displaying aggressive behavior toward other drivers
- missing stop lights and other traffic signals
keep a safe distance and call for help. You can call 911 to report a possible drunk driver in Florida, or you can dial FHP(347) from your mobile phone, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. If possible, be able to give the operator a description of the vehicle, your general location, and the license plate number of the driver in question.
How Can I Prevent DUI Accidents?
Are you the one preparing to drive? Of course, avoiding alcohol is the top answer here. If you don’t drink, you won’t be driving under the influence. However, many of us enjoy going out for a drink or two with friends on the weekend or celebrating a big event with a favorite beverage. There’s nothing wrong with partaking in festivities, but doing so responsibly can be the difference between life and death.
If you know you’ll be consuming alcohol, make the smart choice and plan ahead! Make other arrangements to get you back home safely. Unlike the days when you singled out a friend as the
“designated driver” for the night, today’s drivers have options! Yes, you could ask a non-drinking friend to be your backup driver, or you could arrange for a friend or family member to pick you up when you’re ready to head home. If you don’t want to involve someone you know personally, consider hiring a rideshare service for the evening. You can schedule a ride ahead of time, or easily grab a ride last-minute with an app on your phone.
Uber and Lyft are common options, but Tampa will be adding its own service soon! See our post about DASH and what it means for Tampa Bay drivers starting in October.
When it comes to others driving under the influence, you still play an important role. If you are aware that someone has had too much to drink, it’s okay to question them getting behind the wheel. Offer to drive, call a ride for them, or, if possible, provide a place for them to wait it out (i.e. your house, your vehicle, etc.) and be willing to wait with them. If they still insist on driving, calling the authorities might be your only option. You can feel validated knowing you might have saved lives by making that call.
How does Brooks Law Group help victims of DUI accidents?
Brooks Law Group dedicates our time and efforts to making Tampa’s roads safer. Advocating for victims of drunk driving accidents is something we’re passionate about. If you or someone you love has been injured because of the selfish and reckless choice of another, you can count on us to stand on your side. We fight for the justice and compensation you deserve and advocate for you both in and out of the courtroom. Our skilled and experienced lawyers represent victims of drunk driving accidents in Central Florida, and we have a proven record of getting the best results for our clients.
Our services are risk-free. Simply contact us and book your free consultation, and we take care of the rest. You don’t pay unless we win. When drunk driving accidents happen, victims in Tampa always Look to Brooks.