Hillsborough County sheriff launches DUI squad

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It is a dangerous and alarming trend; Hillsborough County leads the state in impaired drivers. The sheriff's office is launching a new DUI Enforcement Unit to try to make the streets safer.

"I think Hillsborough County has a lot of bars, has a lot more opportunities than other places for it to happen," said Deputy John Campbell.

Campbell is part of a new, dedicated, and centralized DUI Enforcement Unit. He’s one of 20 deputies trained to detect and arrest impaired drivers.

According to the Department of transportation, between 2013 and 2017, Hillsborough County had the most injuries and fatalities caused by impaired drivers in the state.

In 2018, the sheriff's office arrested 1,631 people for driving drunk or on drugs, and over the last five years; the numbers have been just as high.

"Any death or injury that's alcohol or drug-related is one too many and certainly being number one is not a place that we want to be,” Major Darrin Barlow said. "Our goal is to enhance our efforts to remove more of those drivers from the road and make the roadway safer for all of us."

Deputies in the unit will be out on the streets, their eyes peeled for traffic violations and driving patters.

"If it's kinda bouncing from left to right I’m looking for that, if it's crossing over the white line either left or right I’m looking for that as well, any acceleration or deceleration," said Campbell.

The squad will also work off the road, meeting alcohol venders and retailers to give guidance on laws, and also visiting local high schools to discuss the importance of driving sober.