Florida Bar Sued Under Dram Shop Laws

A sports bar has been ordered to pay $2 million after an underage drunk driver ran over a pedestrian and a 2-year-old girl. Isaac Sanchez was standing on the side of the road and holding his 2-year-old nephew when drunk driver Valerie Dibble drove off the road and then across a lawn before running them over. Valerie Dibble was 20 years old and had just left Crossroads Sports Bar, however the bar at trial claimed that Dibble had never been in the bar. Dibble’s blood alcohol level was at 0.228 which is more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.

The jury did not believe the Crossroad’s Sports Bar’s claim that Dribble had not been a patron at their establishment, and ordered that the bar ay Sanchez $2 million under dram shop laws. The drunk driver, Dibble, was convicted in a separate criminal trial of drunk driving and of causing serious bodily injury. She was sentenced to three years of community supervision.

Florida’s dram shop laws will hold establishments responsible for damages if they served an individual who caused a wreck who was under the age of 21 or if the individual being served is known to be “habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages.”

Florida Reconsiders Alcohol Standard for Ignition Interlock Devices

The state of Florida has one of the highest thresholds of blood-alcohol levels for a driver who has a court-ordered ignition interlock device in their vehicle. The ignition interlock device will prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver’s alcohol level is measured as too high, and Florida’s standard for the devices is set at .05, which is nearly the legal limit of .08. These devices are often used to deter DUI offenders from future drinking and driving.

The new proposed standard is .025 which is more “in line” with national standards, according to Julie Jones, the executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. She is pushing for legislation that would lower the level for these devices.

Under Florida law, a convicted drunk driver must install the ignition interlock device in their vehicle if they have multiple DUI convictions, if they had a very high BAC (above .15), or if there was a minor in the vehicle at the time of their DUI.

Ignition interlock devices can carry a number of fees, including:

  • $12 interlock fee
  • $75 for installation
  • $72.50 for monthly monitoring and calibration
  • $100 refundable deposit or a $5 monthly insurance charge

Florida statutes require the devices to be installed on a first-time DUI offender if court-ordered. A second-time DUI offender must install the device for at least one year, or two years if they had a high BAC or minor in the vehicle. A third-time DUI offender is required to use the device for 2 years, and a fourth-time DUI offender is required to use the device if they have four convictions or more under the condition of a hardship license.

Volusia Uses DUI Court Program for Hardcore Offenders

17 members of a new Florida DUI Court Program watched as Roger Gilb, a man with no criminal record, was sentenced for DUI manslaughter for the deaths of two people on a motorcycle. The man had no previous criminal record. The point of the program is to show DUI offenders what could happen to them and let the reality of their offense sink in.The DUI Court started in Volusia this April and was started with the help of County Judge Belle Schumann. After the sentencing of the man charged with DUI Manslaughter, Judge Schumann said of the new group, “I know everybody is thinking, ‘There but for the grace go I.'”

Gilb’s blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit when the accident occurred that caused the deaths of Nina Hargis and Gregory Stanley. The selective DUI Court Program is for offenders whose BAC was .15% or higher, or who have a previous DUI conviction.

To participate in the program, the offenders are required to a much higher level of monitoring, and they must attending at two DUI sentencings.

One of the participants at Gilb’s sentencing said, “It shook me up. I felt like it was me. I felt compassionate toward him. Thank the Lord I’ve been protected enough, I never did that.”

DUI Checkpoint Scheduled for Pinellas County

Pinellas County has very tough penalties for DUI, and tougher penalties can apply depending on your level of blood alcohol content. If your BAC is above .15%, you can be fined $1,500 for just a first offense, and you can face up to nine months in jail.

Law enforcement officials this weekend will be on patrol for drunk drivers. A DUI checkpoint is commencing today, Friday, October 19, starting at 10p.m. and lasting until 3a.m. Saturday at National Aviation Academy, 6225 Ulmerton Road.

Throughout Pinellas County, the sheriff’s office will set up monthly checkpoints which includes the use of patrol, community policing, K-9, and narcotics deputies. In addition to drivers impaired by alcohol and narcotics, law enforcement will be looking for driver license, registration, insurance, and equipment violations.