Legislature passes most stringent DUI law

Supporters of more stringent drunk driving legislation in Florida assembled at the Capitol Wednesday to announce the Florida Legislature’s passing of the most comprehensive DUI legislation in Florida history.

“We have put together one of the most monumental pieces of legislation in the nation in our efforts to stop drunk driving,” said Rep. David Simmons, R-Longwood, who sponsored the bill.

Bill 1057, which passed in both Houses on March 21, is designed to address the repeat offender. Andy Hindman, executive director of Florida’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said DUI is the nation’s most frequently committed crime and he was very satisfied with the strict legislation.

“We applaud the strong leadership of Senator Locke Burt, Representative

David Simmons, Representative Jonnie Byrd and the efforts of the Florida Legislature to make our roadways safer for our families,” said Hindman.

The National Highway Safety Administration reported that last year’s number of alcohol related deaths accounted for 39.9 percent of Florida’s total crashes.

If signed by Gov. Bush, the Driving and Boating Under the Influence Bill will upgrade a second DUI conviction to a third degree felony and make the refusal to participate in a second breathalyzer test a criminal offense.

The law will also require the use of an interlock device, which monitors the blood alcohol level of the driver of a car or boat, for up to one year after the second DUI conviction and for two years after the third conviction.

Hindman said the interlock system is a monitoring device intended to prevent offenders from driving while under the influence of alcohol.

“The interlock ignition device is a blow tube roughly the size of a cell phone that connects to the driver’s vehicle,” said Hindman.

“If any alcohol is registered, the car will not start.”

Advocate of DUI legislation and sponsor of the Senate version of theill, Sen. Locke Burt, R-Ormond Beach, said the bill would make Florida highways and roads safer for families.

“I am deeply honored to join MADD today as we celebrate passage of landmark legislation to keep drunk drivers off our streets,” said Sen. Burt.