Many Police departments in Florida conducted anti-drunk driving operations over the recent Memorial Day weekend, but few of them put as much effort into their crackdown as the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Between 2014 and 2018, there were more intoxicated driving incidents in Hillsborough County than in any other part of Florida, and the HCSO decided to address the problem with high visibility policing and a zero-tolerance policy.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, many Hillsborough County residents decided to go out and celebrate despite COVID-19 restrictions. They found HCSO deputies out in force manning drunk driving checkpoints and pulling over both cars and boats. The goal of what was dubbed operation “Surf ‘N’ Turf” was to deter drivers and boaters from getting behind the wheel after drinking and apprehend those who ignored the warning. According to an HCSO representative, the operation led to 34 individuals being taken into custody on DUI and BUI charges. Seven of these individuals were operating boats and 27 were driving cars.
Deputies initiated about 600 traffic stops and issued more than 170 citations during the initiative. The HCSO Marine Unit was also busy over the holiday weekend. More than 40 boats were stopped and 25 citations were issued. The HCSO was assisted during the drunk driving operation by the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Temple Terrace, Tampa and Plant City Police Departments. The operation ran between May 22 and May 25.
When these cases are prosecuted, the key evidence is likely to be the results of breath tests conducted at law enforcement facilities. The equipment used to conduct these tests must be rigorously maintained and regularly recalibrated, which is why experienced criminal defense attorneys may study service logs carefully when their clients are accused of DUI. When breath-testing equipment has not been properly maintained and toxicology evidence could be unreliable, attorneys may seek to have drunk driving cases dismissed.