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Gainesville, Florida law enforcement has joined a nationwide effort to increase DUI arrests and hopefully reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths caused by drinking and driving. The crime of Driving Under the Influence, in Florida, includes not only alcohol but also all drugs that impair a person’s ability to drive safely. These drugs includes illegal drugs as well as those drugs prescribed by a doctor or available over the counter. Many people think that just because a doctor prescribed a drug it is legal to take that drug and drive. In fact, legal prescription drugs and certain over-the-counter drugs significantly contribute to the carnage and death on our highways.

The Gainesville Police Department, The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Highway Patrol have joined together to toughen up DUI enforcement between now and Labor Day as part of the “Drunk Driving Over the Limit. Under Arrest” Campaign. Alcohol related crashes were down from 23,000 in 2005 to 22,000 in 2006 statewide and law enforcement agencies in Gainesville hope to do their part in arresting people suspected of DUI.

Gainesville Police Department Sergeant Joe Raulerson reports that Gainesville recorded 18 traffic fatalities in 2007 and in at least a third of them alcohol was a factor. Gainesville has almost 65,000 college students who may be those at greatest risk of failing to recognize the risks associated with drinking or taking drugs(legal or illegal) and driving.

A DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury can land someone in prison for many years,even on a first offense, and a DUI Manslaughter often results in a 15 to 20 year prison sentence for a first offense.

A conviction for a first offense DUI can cost as much a $20,000 or more primarily due to increased insurance costs. A new law passed in Florida in 2007 requires anyone convicted of DUI to carry car insurance with a minimum Bodily Injury Liability coverage of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident as well as $50,000 in Property Damage coverage.

It is important for drivers to plan ahead if they go out for a night that includes any more than a few drinks. Even one Martini(with 2.5-3 oz.of alcohol) can put a 120 lb. person at or near the legal limit of a .08. Planning to have a designated driver or taking a taxi home makes sense and can avoid the years of heartache that can be caused by a tragic DUI accident.

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