The Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is responsible for making highways safe through service, education, and enforcement. Barbara Lauer, Bureau Chief of the Driver Education and DUI Programs, has been involved for more than 30 years in this challenge and led the implementation of a number of effective initiatives.
Driver safety is the DHSMV’s number one priority. With close to 20 million registered vehicles on Florida’s roads, there is a need to reduce the risk of convicted drunk driving offenders from getting behind the wheel.
To send a strong message about Florida’s stance on this issue, new legislation was enacted on July 01, 2003 requiring selected, convicted DUI offenders to install an alcohol interlock device. The program needed to be state-wide and affordable with immediate implementation.
ACS responded to Florida’s requirement with a full-scale offender alcohol interlock program.
With an alcohol interlock installed in the vehicle, the convicted DUI offender must provide a proper breath sample and pass the alcohol test before starting the vehicle. The alcohol interlock stores the data from each test and the use of the vehicle including any attempts to bypass the system. Actions in violation of the program require the driver to report to an interlock centre. The recorded data is stored on a central server and accessible to local authorities 24 hours a day. To further ensure compliance, the program is funded on a user-pay basis at an affordable monthly rate.
If there is a violation the offender is required to meet with an evaluator for a monitoring session. If there is a second violation the offender must meet at least monthly with the evaluator to discuss their continued substance abuse and driving.
Since Florida’s alcohol interlock program began in 2004, over 21,000 drivers have participated in the program, making the Sunshine State a recognized leader in highway safety.