Hillsborough County’s Operation Guinness

April 9, 2024 Criminal Defense, Drunk Driving/DUI, News & Announcements

There are certain instances in which law enforcement conduct a traffic stop operation to prevent accidents and apprehend those who get behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. This can include during school breaks or holidays expected to have excessive drinking.

In Hillsborough County, the sheriff’s office recently conducted a traffic stop operation that coincided with both Spring Break and St. Patrick’s Day to stop those suspected of drunk driving. This page will provide information on the operation along with the rules police must comply with during a traffic stop, and the potential defenses that may apply to a person recently charged with a DUI in Florida.

St. Patrick’s Day Traffic Stops

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) conducted a traffic stop operation over St. Patrick’s Day weekend called “Operation Guinness.” The county-wide effort conducted 316 traffic stops to check for suspected drunk drivers. In total, there were 26 people arrested for DUI during the traffic stop operation.

HCSO reported the following data from Operation Guinness:

  • 316 traffic stops;
  • 28 citations;
  • 26 DUI arrests; and
  • 6 other unrelated arrests.

The following is a statement from HCSO Sheriff Chad Chronister:

“With St. Patrick’s Day occurring during Spring Break, we were anticipating a heavy influx of drivers on our roadways. Thanks to the diligence of our DUI Unit and our patrol deputies, drivers that could have seriously injured themselves or other drivers spent a night in the Orient Road Jail rather than our roadways. We are fortunate the weekend passed without any major incidents.”

What Rules Must Police Abide by When Conducting a Traffic Stop?

Traffic stops are put into place by police to reduce injuries and deaths on the roadways, as well as punishing those who drive negligently or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When law enforcement or other authorized entity is conducting a traffic stop, they must follow specific rules to ensure the suspect’s rights are protected.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol Policy Manual, it is illegal to initiate a traffic stop based on the vehicle occupant’s race, national origin, sex, age, or disability—including their proficiency in English or level of income.

Additionally, the following regulations are set out under 17.21.07 of FLHSMV’s manual:

  • The initiation of the traffic stop must be based on a violation(s) committed by the occupant(s) of the vehicle;
  • Members must ensure and uphold full compliance with non-discrimination requirements;
  • Those initiating a traffic stop should use all available resources when necessary, such as an interpreter, I-Speak cards, telephone interpretation services, or applications via smartphone or other devices to facilitate communication with persons who display limited English proficiency; and
  • Provide a public notice of compliance with the Title VI Program Rights that assures the specific responsibilities have been adopted, including information on how to file a Title VI complaint.

Specifically in Tallahassee, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) has a Traffic Enforcement Unit tasked with responsibilities such as traffic law enforcement, serious crash investigations, wrecker service administration, impaired driving enforcement, and special event operations.

According to LCSO’s page, each member of the Traffic Unit undergoes training for driving under the influence (DUI) enforcement. Working in conjunction with other agencies and organizations, the Traffic Unit conducts roving patrols, saturation patrols, and stationary roadblocks (also referred to as a DUI checkpoint). LCSO states that the operations, “are aimed at detecting and deterring impaired drivers, and educating citizens of Leon County of the dangers of driving impaired.”

When dealing with the police encounters in Tallahassee or the surrounding area of the Florida Panhandle, it is imperative that you know and understand your rights. To find out more about traffic stops involving K-9 drug dogs, refer to our page here.  

Potential Defenses to DUI in Florida

It’s worth noting that even a first-time DUI arrest has the potential to be life altering. The extensive penalties that come with a DUI conviction in Florida are severe. However, you are still entitled to the right to challenge the charges against you. By working with a skilled defense lawyer, you can discuss if any of the following defenses are applicable to your DUI case:

  • Improper field sobriety tests that were not conducted correctly or administered within the set standards;
  • Inaccurate breathalyzer results caused by a faulty device or a device that was improperly administered to the suspect;
  • Lack of probable cause by law enforcement in which the officer(s) who conducted the stop cannot assert a justifiable probable cause that initiated the traffic stop; or
  • The defendant’s rights were violated at any point during the DUI stop or arrest.

Keep in mind that these are only a few potential defenses for a DUI case. Consult the expert drunk driving attorneys with Pumphrey Law to discuss the full details surrounding your DUI traffic stop.

Contact the Defense Attorneys with Pumphrey Law Firm

Given that March has multiple holidays such as Spring Break and St. Patrick’s Day, citizens should keep an eye for more traffic stops. Law enforcement typically employs traffic stops during periods of expected drinking, such as Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve. If you or a loved one are arrested for suspected DUI after a holiday, make sure to contact the aggressive defense attorneys with Pumphrey Law Firm.

Our team can provide you with a free consultation to review the details of your case and establish a plan for defense. Contact our office by calling (850) 681-7777 or filling out our online form.

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