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Shifting from Prosecution to Prevention for Drunk Drivers

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Why does the frequency of alcohol and drug related car accidents continue to increase in Florida? Last year alone, Florida's intoxicated drivers caused more than 20,000 accidents resulting in nearly 1,000 fatalities. I believe these deaths can be avoided by focusing on the root cause of drunk driving accidents; the drivers, rather than the alcohol. As a Miami wrongful death accident lawyer, I have seen first hand the devastation caused by drunk drivers. Alcohol related car and truck accidents shatter families emotionally and financially. I think it is time that our focus shifts from punishment to prevention.

Driving while intoxicated can be a symptom of alcoholism. Diagnosing and treating alcohol abuse will directly lower the number of drivers on the road who are intoxicated. Especially for young adults aged 18 to 25 who are reported to have the highest prevalence of both binge drinking and heavy drinking.

I believe that everyone has an obligation to intervene when we see a friend, coworker or family member abusing alcohol or drugs. But it is Florida's doctors and nurses who are in the very best situation to identify patients at risk. Professional groups like the American Medical Association AMA and the American Society of Addiction Medicine support the routine screening for alcohol misuse by primary care doctors and brief counseling interventions for those who screen positive. Pediatricians should also be to screen both children and adolescents for alcohol and drug use.

Most people minimize the frequency and quantity of their own alcohol consumption since
the percentage of alcohol varies depending on the type and size of servings. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism contends that men who drink in excess of 14 drinks a week and women who consume in excess of 7 drinks a week are at high risk for alcohol abuse. According to the U.S. Preventative Service Task Force, recommended that clinicians should determine if a patient is at risk for alcohol abuse by using a brief screening tool and when warranted provide counseling and intervention.

Florida's hardworking juries convict about 30,000 people a year for driving under the influence-with 2,274 in Miami alone. I hope that with more focus on screening potential alcohol abusers we can prevent and eliminate alcohol related traffic accidents and fatalities in Florida.