JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – I've only had a couple drinks. I'm almost home. I live around the corner. I feel OK.
If you get behind the wheel after drinking and driving, these excuses may seem justified. But not when you're trying to explain that to police during a traffic stop.
Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer Jesse Eanes, who works with the agency's DUI Unit, has heard it all before. Despite obvious signs of intoxication, most drunk drivers think they're fine.
"A lot of times they'll ask me, 'Why did I get pulled over?' They won't even notice they've been stopped at the red light for two or three cycles, that they're swerving all over the road," Eanes said.
Last year, nearly 3,000 people were caught driving under the influence in Jacksonville. Drinking and driving not only puts yourself and drivers in danger, but the fallout can change your life.
"People have no earthly idea what a DUI conviction can do. None," said attorney David Robbins.
The consequences for driving under the influence mean people can go to jail, lose their jobs and even have their driver's licenses revoked, Robbins said. They can also potentially go broke.
When you add up all the fines, local and state fees, the costs of hiring an attorney and the likely increase in insurance premiums, a DUI conviction can end up costing more than $10,000.
That can make the price of an Uber or taxi ride home seem like chump change.
DUI cases are one of Robbins' specialties and he says after a failed sobriety or BAC test, it's difficult to win a court fight. The process can take weeks or even months. The conviction follows you for life.
"You can't get the conviction expunged," he said. "That's one of the problems because if you are convicted of a DUI, you don't qualify to get your record sealed or expunged."
The good news is, Robbins said a DUI is 100 percent preventable. "You better have a plan and you better be able to stick to it, that's the only way," he said.
With so many options available such as ride-sharing services, public transit and even free ride campaigns, there's really no excuse for drinking and driving. View some of those options below:
AAA’s Tow-To-Go service is available to Floridians and Georgians from Dec. 21 through 6 a.m. Jan. 2. Just dial (855) 2-TOW-2-GO (286-9246) and you can get a confidential ride to a safe location within 10 miles. AAA will take you and your vehicle home, free of charge to both members and non-members.
This reminder is brought to you as part of Project Roadblock, an annual nationwide safe driving campaign. News4Jax is a proud participant in the campaign.