Students driving on campus Thursday night should expect to see a higher number of University Police (UP) officers patrolling the area as part of its Comprehensive Roadside Safety Checkpoint.
The checkpoint will be active from 9-10 p.m. on USF Maple Drive, according to Tuesday’s UP press release. It is designed to identify impaired drivers on campus and emphasize the importance of the safety of drivers in the community, Captain Marty King said.
“The University Police hope that people will make informed decisions regarding driving when they may be impaired,” he said. “With the availability of ride sharing programs such as Uber and others, it is very simple to make the safe decision.”
Following the hourlong checkpoint is a six-hour saturation patrol. Officers will be patrolling campus streets as well as those in surrounding areas, according to King.
The number of officers who will be at the checkpoint and patrolling has not been determined, but King said there will be enough to ensure the safety of those entering the checkpoint. Officers that were assigned to the checkpoint will also be a part of the saturation patrol.
Once at the checkpoint, King said drivers should not expect much disruption to their drive as it won’t take more than a few minutes to complete.
Officers will be asking routine questions and holding a short conversation with drivers when at a traffic stop to determine if they are intoxicated. They will also be looking to see if drivers have any other traffic infractions such as equipment or driver license violations.
Signs of impairment the officers will be looking for in the checkpoint and during the patrol include swerving within or out of a lane, driving slow or fast, slurred speech, bloodshot watery eyes, smelling of an alcoholic beverage and failure to maintain balance, according to King.
If a driver is impaired, they will be asked to exit the vehicle and will be taken to a safe area and an officer will move the car away from the flow of traffic, King said.
A field sobriety test will be done to determine the level of intoxication, and if impairment is identified, the driver will be arrested and transported to Orient Road Jail in Hillsborough County.
This is the first checkpoint of the semester, as the last one was conducted Nov. 4. King said 38 vehicles were stopped but none were identified as impaired.
Checkpoints are not held often as King said operations are based on staffing, the time of year as well as statewide enforcement campaigns and operation objectives.
King said UP provides advanced notice of checkpoints because it is required by state statute, but also because it “emphasizes the efforts being made to keep our USF Community and surrounding areas safe.”
“It is also important that there is variation so our motoring public make informed decisions about intoxicated driving not based on specific expectations of checkpoints,” he said.