TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), a division of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), is spreading the message Arrive Alive, Don’t Drink and Drive this March as residents and visitors celebrate spring break in Florida. The DHSMV and FHP are partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Sheriffs Association, AAA – The Auto Club Group and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association to spread the message on how to enjoy spring break in Florida safely.
“Spring break in Florida is a fun and exciting time for many students and families, but driving impaired can change that in an instant,” said DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “We want everyone to enjoy their vacation and always designate a sober driver or find a safe ride home. Arrive Alive and never drink and drive.”
Florida’s beautiful beaches and tourist attractions lure thousands of spring breakers every year. As more drivers take to Florida roadways, the decision to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol continues to be a serious problem. Preliminary data shows that in March 2016, there were more than 35,000 crashes statewide, including more than 15 crashes each day involving drivers who registered alcohol levels above the legal limit, resulting in 48 fatalities.
“The Florida Highway Patrol wants to ensure that every driver makes good decisions before getting behind the wheel and does not drink or use drugs and drive,” said Colonel Gene Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “Enjoy your time in Florida, but be sure to use good judgment, so that the celebration doesn’t turn into a tragedy.”
In Florida in 2016, high school and college aged drivers made up 20 percent of all drivers in crashes in March. During that time period, drivers ages 15 to 24 accounted for 12,157 crashes, resulting in 677 injuries and 84 fatalities.
Driving impaired not only puts everyone on the roadway in danger, it can have serious legal and monetary consequences. Penalties for DUIs can include expensive fines, license revocation and jail time. Since 2013, more DUI citations have been issued in March than in any other month of the year. This spring break, law enforcement agencies across the state will continue to enforce the state’s drinking age laws to help keep impaired drivers off the roads.
“We remind motorists to drive safely, drive sober and always buckle up,” said Rachel Cone, FDOT Interim Secretary. “With Florida’s beautiful scenic highways and beach destinations, it is the best place to spend your spring break. We want everyone to arrive safely.”
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (DBPR) Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco enforces the state’s beverage law and is responsible for licensing all Florida establishments that sell or service alcohol. This spring break, DBPR is partnering with state and local law enforcement agencies to help further enforce the legal drinking age and ensure that establishments are serving alcohol only to those age 21 or older.
“The DBPR’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco is committed to ensuring that alcohol stays out of the hands of individuals under the legal drinking age and that Florida establishments remain in compliance during spring break,” said DBPR Interim Secretary Matilde Miller. “Spring break is a time of fun and recreation for Florida residents and those visiting the Sunshine State, and we want to make sure everyone has a good time and gets back home safely.”
“Spring break brings a sharp increase in drunk driving incidents, and the Florida Police Chiefs Association is proud to partner with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to promote safe and responsible driving during spring break,” said Coconut Creek Police Chief Butch Arenal, President of the Association. “Drinking and driving often leads to serious injuries or fatalities, and it is imperative to educate Floridians and guests about the dangers of impaired driving. Florida’s police chiefs fully support and endorse this initiative.”
“Impaired driving is responsible for many of the traffic crashes that our deputies respond to daily in Florida,” said Sheriff Jerry Demings, President of the Florida Sheriffs Association. “Given that our primary mission is to protect the citizens that we serve, our Florida Sheriffs fully support the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles ‘Arrive Alive, Don’t Drink and Drive’ initiative this spring.”
“Any plans to celebrate with alcohol should also include a plan to get home safely,” said Amy Stracke, Managing Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Choosing a designated driver is one of the best ways to avoid the dangers of impaired driving.”
Regulatory Compliance Services (RCS), a subsidiary of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA), provides risk management and regulatory compliance training to the state’s hospitality industry. RCS training programs include Responsible Vendor Training and Alcohol Compliance to educate servers and sellers on the legal manner of serving alcohol and preventing underage drinking.
“Florida is fortunate to be revered as one of the nation’s leading destinations for spring break travelers,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “Admired for our world-class hospitality industry, it is our duty to lead by example. We strongly encourage our businesses across the state to serve responsibly and provide a safe environment for all guests. As Florida’s premier provider of responsible alcohol vendor training, we are dedicated to risk management and strongly recommend that businesses and patrons take precaution during the spring break season.”
Visit DHSMV’s website for more information and resources for the Arrive Alive, Don’t Drink and Drive Spring Break campaign. The public is encouraged to report dangerous and drunk drivers by dialing *FHP (*347).