Florida DWI / DUI

In Florida, a DUI is a serious offense. DUI stands for Driving under the Influence, while DWI stands for Driving While Impaired. Unlike a few other states, Florida does not make a distinction between the two charges.

Florida’s Law
Florida’s DUI law says that if it is proven that your normal faculties are impaired OR your blood alcohol content or breath alcohol level is above .08%, you are guilty of a DUI. The penalties are the same regardless of whether you exhibited impairment or a chemical test was administered.

The Penalty
The penalties for conviction of a DUI in Florida are stiff. Judges are prohibited from offering any leniency and must follow the law exactly in regard to the penalties.

First-time offenders face:

  • fines from $500 to $2000 depending on their BAL (blood or breath alcohol level)
  • 50 hours or more of community service or additional fines
  • probation for up to a year
  • incarceration of up to nine months depending on their BAL and ages of passengers
  • 10 days of vehicle impoundment
  • loss of their license for six months to one year
  • enrollment in an approved DUI school to receive a hardship license

With a second offense in a five-year period:

  • fines increase to the $1000 to $4000 range
  • probation is no longer an option
  • mandatory incarceration of ten days, two of which must be consecutive
  • total incarceration of up to twelve months
  • 30 days of vehicle impoundment
  • loss of driver’s license for five years, hardship reinstatement possible after one year
  • mandatory completion of DUI school

Additional offenses within a ten-year period bring:

  • fines increase to the $2000 to $5000 range
  • mandatory incarceration of thirty days, two of which must be consecutive
  • total incarceration up to twelve months if it’s a third offense
  • total incarceration up to five years if it’s the fourth offense or more
  • 90 days of vehicle impoundment
  • loss of driver’s license for ten years, hardship reinstatement possible after two years
  • mandatory completion of DUI school

Even Stiffer Penalties Are Possible
If you were also involved in an accident when you were charged with a DUI and seriously harmed someone, you could receive even harsher penalties. Not only will you have to carry that burden with you for the rest of your life, you may also lose your driver’s license permanently and face additional jail time. Play it safe, and make sure that you never drink and drive.

Dog Bite Statistics

Dog bites are a much larger problem than most people realize. Approximately 1% of emergency room visits are due to dog bites. A more staggering number is that nearly 5 million people per year are victims of dog bites in the United States, which accounts for almost 2% of the population. What is most disturbing about these statistics is that the majority of these victims are children. The most commonly bitten group is boys between the ages of 5 and 9. However, there have been numerous incidents involving older and younger children. Unfortunately, in the case of younger children, many dog bite incidents have led to death. This has even been the case with small dogs weighing less than 5 pounds.

Dog bits have increased considerably in the past 10 years. For instance, the average annual total for dog bite deaths throughout the 1990s was 17. In 2007, 2008, and 2009, the totals for dog bite deaths were 23, 30, and 33, respectively. While it’s possible for any breed of dog to attack a human, the most common breeds involved are pit bulls and rottweilers.

Since 1982, 74% of all dog bite incidents have involved either a pit bull or rottweiler. These two breeds are also responsible for 65% of dog bite deaths and 68% of dog bite maimings. What makes these numbers more frightening than they appear is that these were the first signs of aggressive behavior in 68% of the dogs. Another interesting statistic is that 50% of dog bite incidents take place on the owner’s property. And 77% of dog bite victims know the dog. The dog’s owner is often a friend or relative.

There has been much debate whether or not the behavior of pit bulls and rottweilers is related to nature or nurture. It’s highly likely that there is something within these two breeds that makes them more aggressive. On the other hand, it has been proven that these breeds – regardless of their demeanor – can be changed with the proper love and attention. That being the case, it’s imperative that they receive the proper training and care. These breeds might have more potential for aggressive behavior than others, but it’s important to remember that any breed can attack at any time.

Detecting Nursing Home Abuse

Considering the fact that more than 40% of people aged 65 and older will spend time in a nursing home, the subject of nursing home abuse is a personal one for many of us. When a loved one moves into a nursing home, it’s expected that they will be taken care of with professionalism and compassion. Unfortunately, the elderly are among the most vulnerable people in our society; all too often, abuse runs rampant at nursing homes and long-term care facilities. By knowing the signs of nursing home abuse, you can safeguard the elderly people in your life from harm.

Nursing home abuse tends to fall into three broad categories: emotional abuse, physical abuse and financial abuse. Below, you can familiarize yourself with the most common signs of each type of abuse.

Emotional Abuse – Emotional abuse is one of the most insidious kinds of abuse, since it doesn’t leave any telltale marks or scars. People are emotionally abused through isolation, intimidation, threats, shouting, humiliation and many other techniques. A good way to detect emotional abuse in a loved one is by checking in with them often. Ask them how their day or week has been going; if they seem reluctant to discuss their life, something could be amiss. Sudden personality changes, such as depression in a person who’s always been happy-go-lucky, could be warning signs, too.

Physical Abuse – Physical abuse can be manifested in many disturbing ways. Bruises, scratches, welts and fractures are all apparent signs of physical abuse in the elderly. In extreme cases, death can even occur. Sometimes, the elderly are drugged or restrained against their will in nursing home environments. Keep your eyes peeled for unexplained injuries and be on the lookout for nursing home residents who appear to be over-medicated.

Financial Abuse – Financial abuse is especially problematic among elderly people who have dementia and other mental illnesses, since nursing home staff can slip into their rooms and steal their possessions. Identity theft can occur when personal information is pilfered, too. Look for unexplained cash withdrawals from bank accounts and missing items in loved ones’ rooms.

In addition to the preceding points, always been wary of facilities that are unsanitary and those that appear to be unsafe. Other signs to look for include sudden weight loss, bed sores and stiff joints. It is possible to detect nursing home abuse – you just have to be vigilant about it.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

On the roadways, truck accidents rank as some of the most catastrophic in terms of damage and physical injury. The sheer size of trucks makes them obvious candidates for destruction, and there are many things that can go wrong for drivers. The most common causes of truck accidents have to do with driver incompetence and mechanical failure, stemming both from negligence and poor manufacturing.

Issues with the driver
Truck drivers are in control of tons of force on the road. This means that one small mistake or minor slip-up can create a difficult situation for other drivers. Excessive speeding has long been a noted cause of truck accidents, but that’s not the only issue. In many instances, truckers fail to adhere to the mandatory rest rules designed to keep them fresh. Drivers operating on little or no sleep are more likely to make a mistake and this remains a huge problem.

Other driver failures might include:
*Passing in a no-pass zone
*Following too close to other trucks
*Leaving the vehicle too close to the roadway in the emergency lane

Likewise, certain issues can arise with passenger vehicles out on the roadway. Drivers often underestimate the speed of large trucks and passing trucks on the interstate can create a dangerous situation.

Mechanical failure
With such large vehicles in question, it goes without saying that brakes are an important consideration. Brake failure can happen over time for a number of reasons. For one, they may have serious defects caused by the manufacturer. In this case, the brakes will give out prematurely, prior to scheduled maintenance. Other times, brake failure is due to negligence on the part of the driver or trucking company. By not regularly servicing the brakes, companies and drivers open up the possibility of an accident.

Other mechanical issues might include the truck’s trailer coming unhitched from the actual carrier. These situations are incredibly dangerous, since the driver has no control over where the runaway trailer is headed.

Commercial company issues
Taking a look at the big picture, companies can be blamed for some of the issues on the road. Often times, companies provide inadequate training for new drivers, thus putting unskilled individuals into dangerous situations. Another company commercial problem is the arrangement of a compensation system that encourages drivers to speed or cut corners.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents often result in injuries that are much more extensive than a collision involving larger vehicles. Unfortunately for the bike rider, they could do everything right while operating a motorcycle and still receive critical or even fatal injuries. Even with every safety device imaginable, riding a bike on today’s busy highways is a dangerous proposition. Many people say that with motorcycles, it’s not a question of if a rider will be involved in an accident; it’s a question of when.

Inattentive Car and Truck Drivers
The failure of other drivers to see the motorcycle rider is the leading cause of accidents. Motorcycles are so much smaller than a traditional vehicle that many car and truck operators can look right at them and just not see them. Additionally, some feel that they don’t need to give the smaller vehicle enough space or that the bike can stop in a shorter distance than is possible.. Whether a car or truck pulls out in front of a motorcycle or sideswipes it while changing lanes, it is usually devastating to the bike rider. Because they have little in the way of protection between them and the other vehicle, they can easily be thrown or crushed.

Driver Error
Of course, motorcycle riders are not without fault. Inexperienced or inattentive operators are the cause of many motorcycle accidents. While it will cause a problem in any vehicle, it takes only a second of distraction or one wrong move to cause a major problem on a bike. Even more experienced bike owners will sometimes push their motorcycles past acceptable limits. They may exceed safe speed limits or attempt to make a turn too sharp for their capabilities. Even a little loose gravel that a driver fails to notice could quickly result in a dropped bike and a bad case of road rash.

Wear Your Helmet
Even if there is no helmet law where you typically ride, use a little common sense, and wear an approved helmet and other safety gear. A fun afternoon ride could easily change the course of the rest of your life. While safety gear won’t guarantee your safety, it will go a long way towards ensuring you make it home in one piece.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

These are the most common causes of car accidents:

1. Drivers that are Distracted

There are many distractions, yet according to a test that was performed by the Department of Motor Vehicles in Virginia and Commonwealth University in Virginia, rubbernecking — or decreasing your mileage to look at another accident — was the cause of many accidents.

2. Fatigue of the Driver

Drivers who are drowsy can account for around 100,000 accidents each year in America, according to the United States Safety Administration of National Traffic. The risk is the greatest from 11:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m..

3. Driving while Intoxicated

In the year 2004, an estimated 16,654 individuals were killed in crashes that were alcohol-related, according to the United States Safety Administration of National Traffic. This is the average of 1 death almost every 30 minutes. Drivers that are drunk were responsible for thirty percent of every fatal crash during the week in 2003, but the percentage significantly rose over the weekends, during which fifty-three percent of crashes that were fatal were related to alcohol.

4. Speeding

Speeding is a huge threat due to not only reducing the amount of time needed to avoid a crash, it additionally increases the crashing risks and makes the crash even more severe if it does happen. Indeed, according to the Insurance Institute for Safety on the Highway, when your speed increases from forty mph to sixty mph, the energy that is released in a crash doubles.

5. Driving Aggressively

A driver who is aggressive is anyone who drives a car in a bold, selfish, or pushy manner, without having regard for the safety or rights of the other drivers on the highways and streets.

6. Weather

Inclement weather, involving hail, heavy rain, ice, snowstorms, high winds and fog could make driving very difficult. You will need extra time to halt and might have trouble clearly seeing the road, so if the weather gets bad make sure to leave added room between the car in front of you and slow your vehicle down. If needed, drive off the road.

Common Causes of Boating Accidents

Boating Accidents: An Introduction
Boating accidents are an experience that no one desires to encounter. But what constitutes a boating accident? The US Coast Guard recognizes three separate scenarios which can comprise a boating accident. In the first, a passenger on a boat either dies or is wounded seriously. In the second, a passenger disappears from a boat. Injury or death are suspected in this case. The third scenario occurs when a vessel is either the cause or recipient of damages. In order to protect yourself from these types of accidents, it is important to learn the most common causes of these hardships.

Drinking and Boating
Driving a boat while intoxicated accounts for over a third of all boating accidents. Drinking and boating is also illegal in all fifty states, under penalty of sizable fines. The consequences of boating under the influence (BUI) are hefty and can involve time in jail.

Severe Weather and Boat Environment
Severe weather is another cause of many boating accidents. Storms and even severe heat and sunlight exposure can inflict bodily harm and exhaustion. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas which is emitted by boat engines. If passengers of a boat are exposed to large concentrations of carbon monoxide, they may suffer serious injury or even death.

Unfamiliar Conditions
A number of boating accidents occur when novice boaters come into harsh or unexpected conditions. Boaters who fail to follow regulations and ignore posted warnings are at an extra risk.

Negligent Driving
Negligent drivers are defined as drivers who do not conduct themselves with reasonable reactions in a circumstance. Perhaps a negligent driver is best defined in terms of the kind of boater that they are not. Reasonable boaters follow posted rules and use common sense in navigating water and dealing with other boaters. Drivers have a responsibility for the safety of the people within their boat as well as others on the water. The penalties for negligent boating are severe and can incur both civil and criminal liabilities. Those people that are victims of a boating accident have the right to bring press charges against the person at fault for medical expenses related to the accident, damage to property and all other losses experienced due to the accident. An intoxicated or reckless driver may also face charges from the state.

Car Accident Statistics in the US

Car crash statistics show that while there were more auto accidents in 2005 than there were in 2000, there were more injuries in 2000 than in 2005. This is probably the result of stringent seat-belt laws, stepped-up enforcement of DWI laws, and advanced safety equipment. Those factors didn’t prevent the death statistics. Deaths from auto accident increased by nearly four percent in that same time span.

Women are half as likely to be killed in an auto crash as men, according to car crash statistics. Nearly three out of four fatalities in auto accidents are men. This is attributed to the fact that men drive more miles than women. Women also drive in different situations than men. Women have a higher number of minor accidents because they drive shorter trips around town. Men are seventy percent more likely to be involved in a serious accident. Excessive alcohol consumption by men and an allegedly more aggressive driving style may be to blame for that statistic. In 2006, 29,722 male drivers were killed as opposed to 12,747 women drivers. The total for both sexes was 29,722.

Teenage drivers are the highest risk group. Death by auto accident is the leading cause of death for teenagers in the USA. More than five thousand teens die yearly with four hundred thousand suffering serious injuries. Drivers in the sixteen to nineteen year age group are four times as likely to die in an auto accident per mile driven. Despite being only ten percent of the driving population, teenage drivers account for twelve percent of fatal accidents. The percent of damage caused by teenage drivers is out of balance as well, with thirty percent of the twenty-six billion in damages attributable to teenage drivers. The difference between the sexes still holds true, as teenage men are more likely to die in a car crash than teenage women by over one hundred fifty percent. Inexperience is the most likely reason that teenage drivers have higher death rates than other drivers.

Bicycle Riders and Florida Traffic Laws

In Florida, like almost everywhere else, bicycle riders have the right to use the same roads that cars and trucks travel on, but they also have the responsibility to follow all of the same traffic laws. They must obey all signs and traffic signals in addition to riding with the regular flow of vehicular traffic.

Cycle Specific Legislation
In addition to the normal traffic laws, cyclists must also obey the following rules in Florida:

  • use a fixed, regular seat for riding
  • at least one hand must be on the handlebars at all times
  • a bicycle must not carry more than the number of riders it was designed to carry
  • a bicycle must have brakes capable of stopping within 25 feet when traveling at 10 mph on dry, level pavement
  • for night riding, a bicycle must have a white light visible for 500 feet in the front and a red light visible for 600 feet in the back
  • cyclists should not ride more than two abreast when sharing the roadway with vehicular traffic
  • if riding two abreast, cyclists should not restrict the regular flow of traffic
  • a cyclist can’t wear a headset or headphones while riding (hearing aids are an exception)

Don’t Impede Traffic
Florida law also states that a cyclist should ride as far to the right as is practical. That does not mean that they need to hug the edge of the road, but that they should ride a few feet from the edge. This allows other vehicles room to pass them while allowing the bicycle rider adequate visibility. If the traffic lane is not wide enough to safely allow a car and bicycle to travel side-by-side, the cyclist is allowed to move further to the left and occupy the entire lane. Florida considers any lane less than fourteen feet wide to be too narrow for a car and bicycle to safely share. For one-way roads, the bicycle rider is allowed to ride in the left lane, and they are allowed to move to the left to make left-hand turns.

Car and truck drivers should remember that a cyclist can only be considered to be impeding traffic if they are traveling in a lane large enough to allow cars and bicycles to ride along side of one another. It is also not considered to be impeding traffic if a larger vehicle has to momentarily slow down to pass a bicycle or if the bicycle is traveling at or near the posted speed.

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