Deputies fight DUI on the water

The fight against drivers under the influence has spread beyond the roads in Hillsborough County. Sheriff's Deputy Tim Berg is on the lookout for impaired boaters.

"If I can catch you on the water before you have a chance to get back to a boat ramp and get in a car, maybe I can prevent a DUI by catching you on the water and stopping you from doing that," said Berg.

He wasn't always a marine deputy. He used to watch the roads on a motorcycle. A horrific crash in 2015 changed that.

He doesn't remember the crash, but he knows what caused it.

"I found out later that [the driver] was under the influence of prescription narcotics," said Berg.

Larry Coggins, the executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), calls the epidemic a public health crisis and a growing concern on the road.

"We're going to be seeing more and more of people driving under the influence of opioids. You get behind a two and three thousand pound bullet going down the roadway and your normal faculties are impaired to such a degree that you can't react in time," said Coggins.

Officers are on the lookout for driving patterns. 

"They would drive more slowly because it's a depressed system. They have trouble maintaining their lane," said Corporal Scott Parker of USF police.

New laws are now cutting down on the number of prescribed opioids.

"Laws that were enacted in July of this past year, where doctors could only write for a three day supply of medication, that's impacted the volume of prescriptions," said pharmacist Bob Parrado.

Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the user.

"If the prescription says may cause dizziness, may cause drowsiness, do not operate heavy machinery people need to remember, heavy machinery is a vehicle," said Parrado.

"Don't put yourself or other people at risk by going out there and driving under the influence. It's pretty dangerous," Berg echoed.