Malo Blackshear, 45, of St. Petersburg was charged with DUI Manslaughter for killing 27-year-old Kathy Gibson in a crash on I-275. Blackshear was speeding when he crashed into the vehicle, in which Gibson was a passenger. Both vehicles spun out of control when they hit on I-275, near 38th Avenue North. Sgt. Steve Gaskins of the Florida Highway Patrol said that Blackshear “blew twice the legal limit” when he was given a field sobriety test.
Kathy Gibson’s mother, Sheila Brown, said that Nona Evans, who was the driver of the vehicle, and her daughter were on their home way after giving a friend a ride home. Evans sustained minor injuries from the crash. Brown repeats the wisdom that, sadly, still gets repeated over and over again, time and time again, “Just please, don’t do it, don’t do it. Get somewhere and sit down, lay down or whatever. Don’t do it, don’t try to drive somewhere” when you have been drinking. Don’t Drive Drunk.
FLORIDA DRUNK DRIVING STATISTICS
According to the DUI-USA.DRINK DRIVING.org website, in 1995:
• 51,718 people were arrested in Florida for driving under the influence
• 717 fatal accidents in Florida were caused when at least one driver had a BAC of 0.08% or higher
• 803 people were killed in Florida in accidents where at least one driver had a BAC of 0.08% or higher
• 154 people were killed in Florida accidents where at least one driver had a BAC between 0.01% and 0.07%
• 956 total deaths were caused in Florida where at least one driver had a BAC of 0.01% or higher
Comparatively, in 2008, the drunk driving statistics for the State of Florida were:
• 792 fatal accidents in Florida where at least one driver had a BAC of 0.08% or higher
• 875 people were killed in Florida where at least one drive had a BAC of 0.08% or higher
• 165 people were killed in Florida accidents where at least one driver had a BAC between 0.01% and 0.07%
• 1,041 total deaths caused in Florida where at least one driver had a BOC of 0.01% or higher
DUI LAWS IN FLORIDA
Penalties in Florida depend on the exact circumstances in each particular case and the number of previous offenses (if any). Both the 1st and 2nd DUI offenses are classified as a misdemeanor. At a 3rd or 4th offense, the classification changes to Third Degree Felony.
First DUI Offense in Florida includes:
• Fines: $500 to $1,000
• Up to six months in jail
• Six months to one-year revocation of driver’s license
• Up to one year of probation with monthly reporting
• 50 hours community service (or pay fine)
• Must attend DUI school/program
• Possible impoundment of vehicle for 10 days
• Substance abuse treatment, as required
IF the first DUI offense included driving under the influence with a BAC of 0.15 or higher, or with a minor in the vehicle (under the age of 18), the penalties increase to:
• Fines: $1,000 to $2,000
• Up to nine months in jail
• Not less than six months ignition interlock (IID)
FLORIDA’S HIGHER-THAN-AVERAGE RATE OF DRUNK DRIVERS
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “more than 8,400 people were killed in the state from drunk driver crashes between 2003 and 2012.” Drivers surveyed reported to the CDC that a great number of them still continued to drive even though there were really too intoxicated to do so.
STEPS TAKEN BY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS
Florida law enforcement officers try to stem this tide of rampant drunk driving that seems to persist in Florida through several steps, including:
• Running anti-drunk driving campaigns
• Setting up sobriety checkpoints
• Enforcing drunk driving laws
If you or a loved one have been injured or affected by a drunk driver in St. Petersburg or elsewhere in Florida, please contact a personal injury attorney. These senseless acts and the fatalities they produce must be stopped. Find out how to exercise your rights in such a case to the letter of the law.