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New Approaches on Addiction Debated

Two health issues being addressed in this year’s legislative session both would deal with substance abuse in new ways for Florida: a needle exchange to reduce disease spread among IV drug abusers, and specialized car locks for repeat DUI offenders.

The proposal on the controversial needle exchange program, which would be limited to Miami-Dade County, passed through House and Senate committees and are ready to be heard on the floor, the Miami Herald reports.  There is no guarantee that SB 408 and HB 491 will be scheduled for a floor vote.

While Florida law currently prohibits needle exchange programs, in which intravenous drug users could swap used needles for clean ones, the proposals would allow Florida’s Department of Health to launch a pilot program in Miami-Dade, which has the highest rate of new HIV infections in the country.  The program would last five years.

Another proposal before legislators offers a new program for repeat DUI offenders.  HB 7005, known elsewhere as “24/7 Sobriety,” would require repeat offenders to submit to twice-daily breath tests, random urinalysis, or continuous monitoring devices, according to the News Service of Florida.  If they drank -- even if they didn't drive -- they would be in violation.

Current state law requires interlock devices for any driver with two or more DUIs. Judges could try the 24/7 program while still ordering the interlock devices.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.