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Martin Co. experiences increase in DUI arrests

Posted at 11:34 PM, Feb 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-01 05:14:39-05

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. -- Two years ago, 27-year-old Phillip Harvey Jr. was driving home, when he was sitting in his car at the stoplight at Mapp Rd. and Martin Downs Blvd.

That's when convicted drunk driver, John White, former owner of the Key Lime Cafe in Stuart, was also driving.

He hit Harvey Jr.'s car, killing him.

White has been sentenced to a maximum of 25 years for leaving the scene of a deadly crash, and a maximum of 15 years for DUI manslaughter.

On the anniversary of Harvey Jr.s death, his family, community leaders and drunk driving advocates renewed their plea to the community to drive safely and drive sober.

“Do not drink and drive. Talk to your kids talk to your family members,” said Phillip Harvey, Harvey Jr.'s father.

In a vigil Monday near the crash site, Harvey spoke to a small crowd about the loss of his son, and his son's impact.

"It's been two years and I miss him a lot. But, I know he's an angel," Harvey said.

Two years after Harvey's death, law enforcement in Martin County are noticing too many people still getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

Since 2014, Lt. Steve Mochen says DUI arrests have increased by nearly 40 percent. In that mix, some repeat offenders.

"And those repeat offenders that I remember recently have been in crashes," Mochen said.

Because of that, Harvey and members of Families Against Drunk Driving are calling for harsher drunk driving penalties, wanting to see tougher legislation introduced.

"I think the first time you get caught, if they did some jail time off the bat, it might shale them up a bit and say 'hey, I'm not going to do this anymore," Mochen said.

Harvey would also like to see the bartenders and bar owners given harsher penalties for over-serving.

"I doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at someone and tell they have consumed too much alcohol," Harvey said.