Though Florida drivers are still adjusting to the new seat belt law, which is expected to save numbers of lives each year, they must prepare for a new state law that will be effective January 1, 2010, also designed to make Florida roadways a safer place. Signed by Gov. Charlie Crist, the new law places some restrictions on Florida’s most accident-prone drivers, forcing those who have been convicted of three car accident-related violations within three years to take a “behind-the-wheel” driving education course and pass the final driving test. The tallying of crash violations won’t begin until January, but current numbers would place over 3,200 drivers into the most dangerous category if the law were in effect now. Although the numbers don’t “count” currently, drivers who have had two or more accidents since 2008 will face the new penalties if they cause an accident in 2010. If drivers caused three or more accidents before 2010 but do not cause an accident in 2010, however, they will not be required to undergo the course.
Since fining traffic offenders does not always deter them from committing another violation, the new “sentence” is aimed to have a stronger effect on driver behavior, hopefully discouraging repeat offenders from continuing to be repeat offenders. According to the Examiner website, Florida officials reported that only 3,277 drivers were involved in 10,281 state accidents over the past three years, meaning that many of them were drivers in multiple accidents. Nearly 600 of those drivers had at least one DUI. Miami-Dade County is listed as having the most dangerous drivers (378 for the year 2008, according to the Smart Car website), with Broward County following close behind as number five on the list.
Although current law also requires a driving course for repeat offenders (in fact, drivers who received citations in only two crashes must take the course), it does not require those drivers to take a behind-the-wheel course: traffic violators can even take the class online. Since these accident-prone drivers have “demonstrated a propensity not only for crashing but for being at fault,” says executive director of Florida’s highway safety agency, Electra Bustle, the new law is needed to prevent future injuries and fatalities to innocent victims on state roadways.
As a personal injury and wrongful death lawyer who represents injured victims of car accidents and families who have lost loved ones in fatal accidents, David Benenfeld works as an advocate for innocent victims in the metro Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Palm Beach areas. If you have questions about the new law or would like to request free resources for accident victims and their families, feel free to contact the law office of David Benenfeld, Injury Law Service, and we will be glad to assist you.