Florida Steps up Patrols for Impaired Drivers

State officials say alcohol-related crashes have declined, but drug-related accidents have surged. 

Florida Hiighway Patrol officer
James D. Smith—AP

December is a notoriously dangerous time of the year for impaired driving, and Florida officials say they are stepping up patrols as well as an education campaign in an effort to make the state's roadways safer.

From December 23, 2016 to January 2, 2017, there were 193 drug and/or alcohol-related crashes on Florida roadways, resulting in 36 fatalities, state officials said. Although alcohol confirmed crashes have decreased 15 percent from 2014, drug confirmed crashes have risen 50 percent from 2014.

Impaired driving includes driving under the influence of over-the-counter or prescription drugs that affect the ability to drive. 

“Troopers will continue to aggressively enforce impaired driving laws to ensure all motorists and their families are safe during this holiday season,” said Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol.

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The Drive

The DHSMV is partnering with entities including the Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association and AAA in a campaign geared at educating motorists on the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs to further reduce impaired driving crashes.

Tips to help ensure motorists arrive safely this holiday season:

  • Drive sober, and only sober. Adults 21 years or older should celebrate responsibly and plan ahead by finding a safe way home every time – designate a driver or call a ride service.
  • Observe and obey all speed limits. Speed limits may change through different types of roadways, so be sure to adjust your speed accordingly. In Florida, the limit will never be more than 70 mph.
  • Buckle up. A seat belt is a vehicle’s most important safety feature. Florida law requires that all drivers, all front seat passengers and all passengers under the age of 18 wear seat belts or the appropriate child restraints. Seat belts save lives, so buckle up every trip, every time.
  • Focus on driving. Texting, talking on the phone, eating, adjusting the stereo – are all examples of things that can take attention off the road. Motorists should always have their hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on driving.