DUI patrols will be increased next few weeks


With two holidays falling on weekends and three college football bowl games in Tampa Bay coming in the next few weeks, law enforcement says they will be out in force to stop drunk drivers.

Drivers say they already stay off the road because of the sense of danger.

"We try not to be out after a certain time in the evening," said Pete Tanner of Safety Harbor. "Most people are doing a little partying and drinking."

After an evening on Clearwater Beach, Tanner and his family were headed home, knowing that holiday nights tend to draw the wrong kind of drivers to the road.

"It's pretty nerve wracking, especially driving with the family."

Indeed, Mothers Against Drunk Driving says drunk drivers killed 973 people last year nationwide between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, a slight increase from the year before.

An average of 31 per day were killed on New Year's Eve and the following week.

"Have a plan before you even leave the door," said Brett Saunders of the Public Transportation Commission.

MADD, sheriff's deputies, state troopers and Uber teamed up on Thursday to beg people to designate drivers, use taxis, ride sharing apps, tow to go, the bus, or even just walk.

"It is going to be a lot less expensive to pay for a ride compared to the end result of getting arrested for a DUI," said John Womack of the Tampa Police Department.

Along with the holidays, Tampa Bay is hosting the St. Pete Bowl, the Outback Bowl and the college football national championship all within the next few weeks.

Law enforcement has pledged to beef up patrols.

"This is a time of year for family," said Saunders. "The worst thing you can have is a tragedy this time of year."

That's exactly why Adrian Bethea of Brandon hates being on the road on holidays.

"I have kids. I am not drinking, period, I'll wait until I get home."