Bay area law enforcement agencies target impaired drivers

Authorities say if motorists plan to drink they should arrange for a ride home or ask a nondrinker to be the designated driver.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – Sheriff’s deputies, police officers and Florida Highway Patrol troopers in the Tampa Bay area were out in force Saturday night, targeting drunk or impaired drivers.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office parked its Breath Alcohol Testing RV, nicknamed the BATmobile, in a parking lot on East Fowler Avenue just south of the University of South Florida.

Hillsborough County sheriff’s Sgt. Troy Morgan coordinated the effort. He hopes the special operation will educate drivers rather than arrest them. Getting the word out about operations like the key, he said.

“We’d like to deter them from getting on the road and potentially set up preplanned transportation, whether it’s a designated driver, a taxi, whatever the case might be,” Morgan said.

The number of impaired drivers tends to increase on holiday weekends, authorities say. Bianca Kendall, who is with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says that is a major concern for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“There are so many opportunities now for a safe ride home,” said Kendall. “We just want people to plan for it or you’re going to get caught and you’re going to go to jail, which is why they’re out here today.”

Hillsborough sheriff’s Deputy Brian Dawsy is one of a dozen HCSO deputies who is participating in the special detail. He says it’s generally easy to spot a driver who’s had one too many.  “The biggest thing is we look for driving patterns,” Dawsy said.. We’re going to look for people who aren’t maintaining their single lane of travel,” said Dawsy. “Swerving back and forth, going over the lanes.  We look for it to be a consistent driving pattern.”

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