Florida DUI – Beyond the Numbers
Some have referred to that last drink before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle as the “$10,000 mistake.” A driver who is arrested for intoxication can expect to rack up fines and fees that quickly reach or exceed that amount. That assumes, of course, the driver hasn’t crashed and caused serious injury or death, in which case the costs are obviously much greater.
The truth of the matter is that innocent people pay a far greater toll for the reckless choices of drunk drivers. Consider the 23-year-old Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient killed in Cape Coral, his new bride severely injured, by a 25-year-old drunk driver on her way home from a party. In 2007, two young brothers, ages 1 and 6, were killed and their parents horribly injured by a Fort Myers drunk driver whose blood alcohol level was .196 – more than twice the legal limit.
At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, we know these preventable tragedies happen every single day in our community. We represented the family of the two boys in the last case, ultimately securing a $13 million civil judgment for the plaintiffs. To us, cases like these aren’t just statistics—they involve real people whose lives are forever shattered and who deserve some semblance of justice.
We are committed to helping them attain it.
Florida DUI Facts and Figures
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported there were 2,424 traffic fatalities in Florida in 2012, and 697 of those (nearly a third) were alcohol-related.
In Lee County, the number of alcohol-related crashes has climbed steadily in recent years:
- 2010 – 520 crashes
- 2011 – 570 crashes
- 2012 – 620 crashes
During this time, there were a total of 64 drunk driving deaths in Lee County.
Collier County noted similar trends:
- 2010 – 259 crashes
- 2011 – 265 crashes
- 2012 – 294 crashes
In Collier County during this time, there were a total of 28 drunk driving deaths.
In Charlotte County, the trend varied slightly:
- 2010 – 131 crashes
- 2011 – 95 crashes
- 2012 – 113 crashes
There were 16 people killed in Charlotte as a result of drunk drivers during those years.
Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 6 and 27, and according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), almost half of these cases involve alcohol. But it’s not just young people who have to worry. MADD reports one out of every three Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point in their life. A crash involving alcohol kills someone every half-hour and injures someone every two minutes in this country.
The True Cost of a DUI
While the $10,000 figure is often cited to drive home the point of how costly a DUI arrest can be, we less often consider the economic impact on the rest of us. A study conducted in 2006 by the Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation in Maryland found alcohol-related crashes in Florida cost the public $10.9 billion in 2005 alone. That figure included $6.6 billion in quality-of-life losses and $4.3 billion in monetary costs.
These wrecks tend to be far more serious than other kinds of crashes because sober drivers will generally try to initiate some evasive action to avoid the crash. Drunk drivers often barrel right on through with total disregard for the looming impact.
According to research, a single survivor of an alcohol-related crash can expect to incur $154,000 in expenses on average. Of that, $73,000 will be for monetary expenses, and $81,000 for loss of life quality.
Alcohol-related fatalities cost us even more, an average of $5.2 million each.
Considered another way, for every alcoholic drink consumed in this state, it costs $1.20 in alcohol-related crashes. Of that, someone other than the drunk driver picks up $.70 of the tab.
These crashes also drive up the cost of auto insurance for everyone. Approximately 17 percent of car insurance payouts can be traced back to alcohol-related wrecks.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a drunk driving accident in Southwest Florida, please contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, and Port Charlotte.