In the fight to protect Florida drivers from drunk drivers, one county uses a novel tool to help authorities get intoxicated people off the road. Palm Beach County's "Mobile Eyes" program has existed for a decade now and seeks to recruit private citizens to help enforce anti-DWI laws. The program asks private citizens to report possible drunk drivers - in return, it pays them $100.
Despite programs like this, many people in Miami and around the state will become drunk driver injury victims in 2013.
Although Mobile Eyes has paid around 30 or 40 citizens every year for successful tips, Palm Beach County did not begin to see any drop in DWI fatalities until 2009. Since then, the rate dropped from 62 deaths per year to 47 in 2011. Statistics are not yet available for 2012 and this might turn out to be a short-term trend.
Innovative programs like these supplement aggressive information campaigns and police enforcement programs - especially during the holiday period. But in spite of decades of these efforts, the rate of DWI's in Florida remains frustratingly high. Between 2009 and 2011, the state saw only 80 fewer DWI-related deaths.
On top of this, Palm Beach County acknowledged last week that the Mobile Eyes program is not performing as well as it used to. Instead of the 30 or 40 annual reports, officers only received 17 in 2012.
All of these factors indicate that, at least for the foreseeable future, drunk driving will remain a significant safety risk throughout the state.
Source: Sun Sentinel, "Report an impaired driver, get $100 in Palm Beach County," Angel Streeter, Dec. 31, 2012