TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – DUI patrols had a big bar night on their hands this Thanksgiving season. But, it wasn’t necessarily the night normally associated with drinking.
It’s no secret the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a big night for barhopping. It carries with it the notorious nickname “Drunksgiving.”
But, this year, it seems Drunksgiving might have some competition when it comes to the busiest night to go out on the town. It turns out, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is when bar-goers behaved badly, breaking the law that night on Tampa Bay area roads.
Lieutenant Darrin Barlow has seen just about everything in the nearly three decades he’s been with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. This past weekend, he heard every excuse during each stop.
“One of the ones I stopped was, you know, ;I’m the most sober person in the car,’ which is never a good answer. Being the most sober person doesn’t make you safe to drive,” Barlow told News Channel 8.
DUI teams from three different agencies decided to dig up the data from past holiday weekends. When they crunched the numbers, Saturday night topped the list.
So, 25 law enforcement officers from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Tampa Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol carried out an operation Saturday night and well into Sunday morning. “Historically, the weekend after Thanksgiving until the new year, there’s a marked increase in DUI, serious DUI accidents,” Barlow said.
Sure enough, during just a few hours Saturday night 16 people were busted in Hillsborough County for driving under the influence. As a matter fact, deputies were running out the door the second they got in for their shifts.
“In fact, before the briefing was even over, we had deputies going out to work intoxicated drivers at 8 in the evening. It started out busy and stayed busy nearly all evening,” Barlow explained.
If you feel like there have been a lot of accidents, crashes and DUI incidents as of late, you’re not imagining it. Veteran deputies said Tampa Bay area roads are getting more and more dangerous. Barlow attributes the increase to three contributing factors: drinking and driving; road rage; and social media and texting while driving.
“This is all part of the dangers that we see on the roads daily,” Barlow said.