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The Yau Law Firm
Focused on Protecting Businesses and Representing the Injured

Life Sentence for Texan’s Ninth DUI Conviction: What About Floridians?

Is the 9th time the charm?  Bobby Joe Stovall was sentenced to life in prison after his ninth DUI conviction, by Texas Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield.  He may only serve ten to fifteen of those years behind bars with early parole as soon as five years. 

As a Magistrate in Duval county’s Civil Traffic Court, this news horrifies me.  Not that Stovall got a life sentence, but that he had EIGHT prior DUI convictions.  So how would Stovall’s sentence measure up if he was convicted in Jacksonville?

In Florida, fourth and subsequent DUIs are third degree felonies.  Florida statute 316.193(2)(b)(3) imposes a minimum fine of $2,000 (maximum is $5,000).  Such a conviction could also be punished by a 5 year prison sentence–possibly 10 years, for a habitual felony offender.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has a page dedicated to DUI-related statistics.  Driving under the influence kills.  It destroys lives and families.

It is evident that Florida’s DUI laws are too lenient, but let’s look at the deep-rooted problem of alcohol addition.  Multiple offenders usually have another reason for continuing to drink, despite mulitple arrests.  Should Stovall be put behind bars for life?  Alcohol rehab or substance abuse programs can help people like him.  Without the proper education, it is clear that addicts’ dangerous decisions will continue.  I think we should be offering our offenders another way to deal with their addiction.  It’s an opportunity for them to change, and can save the lives of potential DUI victims.

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