By Tamas Mondovics
Celebrating New Year’s Eve with a few drinks may be part of the festivities, but sitting behind the wheel of a car impaired is not. That was the message law enforcement officers across the nation, including deputies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, were set to convey to ensure that ringing in the new year was not marred by a traffic related tragedy.
In an effort to promote safety, to reduce traffic crashes and to get impaired drivers off the road before they hurt themselves or others in Hillsborough County, HCSO deputies, led by Sgt. Jason Napoli, conducted a multi-agency DUI enforcement saturation focusing on the east side of the County.
As reported by HSCO, the night was fruitful. After dozens of stops, the nearly six-hour-long effort resulted in 11 total arrests, including 10 DUIs.
While the majority of residents were awaiting the final count down of 2015, Napoli and his crew set up post at the intersection of S.R. 60 and Parsons Ave. in Brandon armed with the department’s Breath Alcohol Testing Mobile Unit (B.A.T.) and a jail transport vehicle.
Stops were not random, but prompted by probable cause, such as driving without lights, equipment failure or motor vehicle registration, driver’s license, and/or vehicle insurance violation issues, just to name a few.
“Impaired drivers are arrested and are held in a jail transport van before taken to central booking,” Napoli said. “They may spend the night in jail and have to deal with the consequences, but at least they were taken off the roadway before hurting themselves or others.”
Napoli and his crew of deputies may have missed out on the annual festivities this New Year’s Eve, but there seemed to be no indication of disappointment.
“What we are doing is important,” he said adding that the few hours of extra traffic related enforcement may have saved someone’s life.
DUI saturations are conducted once per month and are usually scheduled to correlate with a holiday or special event, and are coupled with HCSO’s Operation 3D, a public awareness plan that is designed to enhance the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office’s ability to deal with problems commonly associated with motorists who drink and drive.
According to HCSO officials, Operation 3D serves to encourage voluntary compliance of existing traffic laws by motorists and includes dissemination of news releases, the development of public services announcements and awareness materials, all of which are to enhance the Sheriff’s Office’s enforcement efforts.