In the United States Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer. Many Americans take advantage of the three-day weekend by vacationing to the Tampa Bay area, including Busch Gardens, St. Petersburg Museum of Art, the Clearwater Aquarium, and Pinellas area beaches.

In the past, this increase in drivers on Florida highways and roads has resulted in an increase in automobile crash fatalities. Memorial Day has consistently been ranked as the most dangerous driving day in the United States.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic fatalities increase by 13 percent during Memorial Day weekend in comparison to a non-holiday day. Nearly half (44 percent) of these fatalities are alcohol related.

Each year Pinellas County law enforcement increase efforts to identify drunk drivers and get them off the road before an accident occurs. During Memorial Day weekend 2015, 15 drivers were arrested and charged with DUI during a special enforcement effort called DUI Wolf Pack Patrols. Although DUI checkpoints or roadblocks have not been announced as of 5/17/2016, it is likely Tampa Bay law enforcement will engage in similar efforts this Memorial Day.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or drunk driving is different from most criminal offenses, because most offenders are not “traditional criminal offenders.” Many individuals convicted of DUI did not intend to drive impaired or did not feel drunk. This is because it is impossible to predict blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level which is the measurement standard for legal impairment.

Under Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.193 an individual can be charged with DUI if he or she is in actual physical of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the point where normal facilities are impaired. A person over the age of 21 is considered impaired if his or her blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level is 0.08 or higher. An individual under the age of 21 is considered impaired if his or her blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level is 0.02 of higher.

The number of alcoholic beverages or the amount of alcohol necessary to reach a blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher varies from person to person. Blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level is influenced based on several factors, including the drinker’s weight, metabolism, food consumed, type of alcohol consumed, and more.

If you plan on drinking anywhere in Pinellas County during Memorial Day, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park, Seminole, or the Tampa Bay area beaches it is recommended to consider the following tips to avoid a DUI:

  1. Drink responsibly.
  2. Appoint a designated driver in advance.
  3. Arrange a ride with a ride sharing service like Lyft or Uber.
  4. Stay where you are drinking – simply do not drive.

 Conclusion

A conviction for drunk driving can have devastating consequences, including jail time, fines, increased insurance rates, and alcohol treatment. If you are charged with DUI anywhere in the Tampa Bay area, it is imperative that you consult an experienced DUI attorney.

Melinda Morris and Seth Shapiro of Morris Law Firm, P.A. are experienced DUI attorneys and co-authors of the book, What You Must Know If You Have been Arrested for DUI. The book is available in paperback and Kindle.

Morris and Shapiro vigorously defend individuals facing any DUI charge, including first DUI, second DUI, felony DUI, juvenile DUI, and more.

Morris Law Firm, P.A. serves individuals throughout Florida, including Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota, Pasco, Manatee Counties, and surrounding areas. Contact Morris Law Firm, P.A.  at (727) 388-4736 to schedule a confidential review of your case.