Florida law enforcement agencies are campaigning for spring break safety and are sharing this poster on social media websites such as Facebook.
Pinellas County reported record tourism numbers during spring break 2012, and officials are hoping for another year of success in 2013.
Many have noticed heightened activity on area roadways and especially along local beaches. March 11-16 should be even busier as students at the University of South Florida are out on spring break. Eckerd College students are on break next week, March 18-22.
Pinellas County schools close for spring vacation March 25-29.
The Florida Highway Patrol is urging safety with its spring break campaign, “Spring Broke is a party students can’t afford.” Throughout the month of March, law enforcement agencies will be out enforcing the state’s drinking age laws and working to keep impaired drivers off the roads.
"Throughout the spring break period, we will continue our enhanced enforcement efforts with special emphasis on impaired drivers,” said FHP Director Col. David Brierton. “Florida troopers do not tolerate impaired driving, so drive sober and drive safely.”
Underage drinking often is a problem during spring break celebrations. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages is working closely with local law enforcement officials to identify underage drinking or sales of alcohol to minors.
“Florida is a wonderful place to visit, but we want to make sure our visitors have a safe experience and that means we’ll be actively looking for underage drinking,” said DBPR’s Secretary Ken Lawson. “Underage drinking is dangerous, and whether you’re underage in possession of alcohol or selling alcohol to an underage person, the consequences will be serious.”
The FHP has put together information and tips to help make sure bad decisions about drugs and alcohol don’t put a damper on spring break celebrations.
• The legal drinking age in Florida is 21. Anyone under the age of 21 in possession of alcohol can be cited for a second-degree misdemeanor, which can lead to costly court fees, fines and other lasting consequences.
• Selling alcohol to anyone under 21 or buying alcohol for anyone under 21 is also a misdemeanor.
• Possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in a vehicle (in motion or stopped) by the driver and or the passenger(s) is a violation of Florida law.
• Plan ahead. Always designate a sober driver before any drinking begins, or take a taxi or public transportation if you plan to drink alcohol. A taxi or bus ride is much cheaper than a DUI citation. Visit PSTA.net for information about bus and trolley service.
• Take the keys. Do not let an impaired friend drive.
• Mind your meds. Heed the warning labels on prescription medicine bottles because even legal drugs can affect your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
• Dial *FHP (*347) on your cell phone to report an impaired driver.
FHP says drivers under the age of 21 caught with a blood alcohol content level of .02 or higher, will have their driver’s license suspended for six months. A second offense results in a one-year suspension.
The first offense for refusing to submit to testing results in a 12-month suspension, and a second offense results in an 18-month suspension.
The state’s beautiful beaches and numerous tourist attractions lure thousands of spring breakers every year.
FHP cautions visitors and residents in the Sunshine State to think twice before driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Law enforcement officials warn, “Driving impaired not only puts everyone on the roadways in danger, but drivers should also know that Florida’s tough DUI laws have stiff penalties that can leave offenders with an empty wallet.”
Be safe, don’t drink and drive.
Revised to correct dates that Pinellas County Public Schools will be on vacation.