DUI patrols pick up ahead of spring break

- As spring break draws near, Tampa police are preparing for bigger crowds and possible drunk drivers hitting the roads in social hot spots around the city.

This year, the University of South Florida, Hillsborough Community College, Hillsborough County  and Pinellas County Public Schools are all on Spring Break the week of March 13 through 17.

Tampa police have a DUI unit that specifically focuses on patrolling for impaired drivers. Officials said Wednesday through Sunday, when most people go out to drink, are the days they plan to focus on heavy patrolling.

“On those particular days, we’ll bring officers in on overtime to work the peak hours for DUI,” said Senior Sergeant John Womack.

TPD was recently awarded a federal grant from FDOT for about $170,000 specifically for DUI enforcement. 

Some of the money will be used to pay for overtime to keep more DUI officers on the road around areas where parties are expected over spring break.

“Obviously university areas, you’ve got USF along Fowler Avenue, the University of Tampa, then we have the SOHO district and Ybor City,” said Womack. “That’s kind of the big area where we find the most violators.”

Police are warning students to plan ahead before heading out for a night of fun at either local bars or area beaches.

They recommend choosing a friend to be a designated driver, taking a taxi or booking an Uber ride instead of driving drunk. According to city law, vehicles cannot be towed from bars between 9 p.m. to noon the next day, an ordinance meant to encourage people to get home safely without worrying about their vehicles.

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