Central Florida investigators launch DUI crackdown for busy weekend

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Twelve law enforcement agencies across Central Florida launched a saturation patrol Friday night aimed at curtailing drunken driving on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

This weekend marks the beginning of spring break, the end of Bike Week and St. Patrick's Day -- all of which, troopers said, bring the risk of drinking and driving.

According to figures from the Florida Highway Patrol, last March, there were 39 fatal crashes in Central Florida, 12 of which were in Orange County alone.

Statewide in the same month, there were 36,000 crashes, with 4,898 of them blamed on drivers under the influence.

"(I have) drivers with no lights on, failure to maintain single lane travel," said Trooper Stefan Dracht.

"I found people slumped behind the wheel, completely asleep.  Unfortunately, some do cause motor vehicle accidents."

Forty-five days ago, after the launch of a similar crackdown, an Orlando police cruiser was hit by a suspected drunken driver.

Investigators said the driver of a pickup truck hit the patrol car, sending it into another car.

"We got a drunk driver off the streets," said Officer Jorge Rodriguez, who was behind the wheel that night.  

He returned for this month's patrol, and he said his focus is razor-sharp for drivers under the influence.

"I am more aware of what to look for, and I can tell you this: I’m actually more aggressive when going out there and looking for drunk drivers," he said. 
 

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