Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

As 2009 draws to a close and 2010 is on the horizon, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year from and the Interstate 275 Florida Blog.

With New Years Eve quickly approaching and New Years Day on the horizon, there is going to be plenty of people out and about celebrating the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010. However, the most common danger of New Years Eve as far as Interstate 275 is concerned is drinking and driving. Here is a comment I made to a story that Bay News 9 had on tips to celebrate New Years Eve safely (I have expanded on more information that you will only find on this blog entry), and I am posting this here as a public service:

If you plan on celebrating New Years Eve and plan on drinking, please either designate a driver, call a taxi to take you home or if you have a hotel room (or a friend's place) to spend the night, do so.

As this article on Bay News 9 proves, the Florida Highway Patrol (along with sheriffs and police agencies in the Tampa Bay region) will be patrolling major roads including Interstate 275. If you are caught, expect to ring in the new year wearing a pair of steel nickel plated handcuffs (double locked and behind your back), being placed in the back seat of the cruiser, and being transported to the county jail depending on where you are caught - at least until you are sober enough. That means you will not be able to bond out until you are sober enough.

The legal limit in the State of Florida is .08

Add to that fines, court costs, attorneys fees, driver license revocation, possible jail term depending on your record, and absolutely no withholding of adjudication of guilt - if you're caught and convicted, it will haunt your driving record for the rest of your life as Florida law prohibits judges from withholding adjudication of guilt on DUI.

Let's look at these a little closely with a little help from the folks over at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles at their DUI information page. This is if you are caught for the first time:

Fines: Not less than $500 and not more than $1,000. If you blow a .15 or more on the breathalyzer then the fines increase to not less than $1,000 and not more than $2,000. That's a couple car loan payments for starters.

Community Service: Mandatory 50 hours of community service or additional fine at the rate of $10 per hour. Imagine spending your weekends at some kind of community service project rather than doing something you like, and you got to work during the week.

Imprisonment: Up to 6 months in the county jail at the discretion of the judge. If you blow a .15 or more on the breathalyzer then it's up to 9 months. Do you want to spend half a year at least in a facility where your freedom of movement is restricted and in a jail cell? Those jail cell locks are not your typical house locks.

Probation: Up to one year, which can include a mixture of both imprisonment and probation.

DUI School: Mandatory DUI school before you get your drivers license back, no ifs, ands or buts. DUI school can be quite costly!

Impoundment of Motor Vehicle: Your vehicle is taken away from you for 10 days, and don't expect to get it back if the judge send you to jail for DUI. The 10 days start when you are released, not when you are sentenced. Imagine that luxury SUV you like so much is now impounded all because of your decision.

Property Damage: If you damage any property while you are under the influence, then the charges become a first degree Misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in the county jail.

Bodily Injury as a result of DUI: Now we're talking serious Felony charges. Fines of up to $5,000 and/or up to five years in the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections. You got that right, state correctional institution.

Loss of Life as a result of DUI: This is a very serious matter here. Now we're talking second degree Felony charges with a $10,000 fine and/or 15 years in the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections. This is DUI/Manslaughter. Just ask the man in Tampa who took my grandmother's life on 25 May 1990 on South Westshore Blvd and West Leila Avenue.

Drivers License: At least six months revocation of your driving privilege. That means your ticket to drive is taken away from you. However, if you are convicted of DUI/Manslaughter then the drivers license revocation is permanent.

Driving Record: If you are convicted of DUI, you are adjudicated guilty of DUI. That means you will have a DUI record for the rest of your life, as Florida law prohibits judges from withholding adjudication of guilt for any DUI offense. This means your insurance rates will go right through the roof, so much that some insurance companies have the right to refuse to insure you. This also means you can lose your job and have plenty of difficulty finding another job (after all, nearly all employment applications ask you if you have been convicted of a crime including DUI).

And one more thing, while we're on the subject of driving record and DUI: You will not be able to visit Canada for a period of time if you are convicted of DUI in Florida or another state. From what I understand DUI in Canada is an indictable (felony) offense. Want proof? See the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for more information on the impact of travel to Canada following a DUI conviction.

Finally, the cost of drunk driving can be a lot more than the Florida Highway Patrol trooper (or sheriff deputy or police officer) that arrests you and the jail, court date and fines/probation/jail that follow after conviction - it can be deadly and it can have lifetime consequences as described above.

Please, folks, do yourself a favor and if you had even one drink, don't get behind the wheel and drive! Let's start 2010 on the right note!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Unsung Sunshine Skyway Hero

Writing a blog entry like this is a rare occurrence here at the Interstate 275 Florida Blog. However, I came across this article in today's St. Petersburg Times about an unsung hero who saved a woman from jumping off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. In the spirit of the holiday season, this is an entry that brings out the hero in all of us.

According to the St. Petersburg Times article, a woman pulled over to the side in the emergency lane began leaning over the concrete Jersey barrier wall when a motorist pulled over and did everything to save this woman from jumping. Luckily, the Florida Highway Patrol came by and the story had a happy ending by saving the woman and taking her to St. Anthony's Hospital here in St. Petersburg for an evaluation per Florida's Baker Act.

Let me tell you after I read the article: This is Florida's Baker Act at its finest, doing what it was intended to do. Hopefully the woman who attempted to jump off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is getting the counseling she needs.

In this day and age of today's economy with people losing their jobs and losing their homes due to foreclosure, that plus the holiday season can drive a person over the edge. It is very sad that people who are in dire circumstances have to go to extremes like this.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There is help out there.

If you or someone you know is going through a crisis situation, here in the Tampa Bay metropolitan area dial 211 for information and referral to someone who can help. If you reside elsewhere, check your local telephone directory for the crisis intervention number in your area. However, in an extreme emergency you can always dial 911. Another resource would be the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can be reached toll free at 1 (800) 273-TALK 24/7/365.

For our Spanish speaking visitors: Para ayuda llame al 1 (888) 628-9454.

On the Sunshine Skyway Bridge there are a set of crisis counseling telephones mounted on the high level main span, three on the southbound lanes and three on the northbound lanes. Below these phones is a sign written in English and in Spanish that reads: "There is hope - make the call". These phones connect the caller to The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay in Tampa and the counselor answering the phone can immediately pinpoint where the caller is located so that a Florida Highway Patrol trooper can be dispatched to the caller's location on the Sunshine Skyway. After all, time is very crucial in an emergency situation.

As for the person who saved the woman from jumping off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, who according to the St. Petersburg Times article is Guelmis Yanes, this person is a hero. This is heroism at its finest, especially around the Christmas holidays.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New Videos Page at!

I know, it's been a while since I posted something recently here at the Interstate 275 Florida Blog. But I got not only one but two new features that I recently added to the site!

First of all, I have a new videos page here at for your viewing enjoyment. I started making a few videos earlier this year, starting with a video on Interstate 375 at Interstate 275 which was made after a March 2009 accident which took place in the same location where a tanker truck flipped over and caught fire in March 2007 which required the closure of the ramp for a month. Since then (and with a newer digital camera) I made a few more videos showing you the Interstate 275 experience both day and night. The videos can be found over at the new videos page here at

OK, on to the second new feature. It's not exactly a new feature so to speak but it is in general. If you have probably seen by now all the photo galleries have been replaced by thumbnail photos followed by the description to the right of the photo (you can see an example here). Like in the previous version if you want to see the full size photo simply click on the thumbnail and the photo will open up in a new window.

Now if you're wondering why has not been updated in a while, it was because I spent a few months recoding the HTML from a Microsoft FrontPage feature to a feature that I can edit on my own. Besides, more and more web hosting providers - including the web host that provides hosting for not only but as well - are discontinuing support for FrontPage Server Extensions, and the photo galleries that were previously used depended on the web host supporting FrontPage Server Extensions. So, rather than paying a web design service an outrageous amount of money (and to mention what kind of finished product you'll get) I recoded the HTML myself so that the photo galleries don't have to depend on the FrontPage Server Extensions.

Hopefully you'll enjoy the new features and updates I put into and feel free to leave me a comment if you so desire.