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Tampa Police Department's DUI Unit

If you were arrested for DUI by an officer with the Tampa Police Department then contact an experienced attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We focus on fighting DUI cases after an arrest in the City of Tampa and throughout Hillsborough County, FL.

Our office is in downtown Tampa just a few blocks from the courthouse. We are in the courtrooms throughout Tampa and Plant City every day fighting DUI cases. Focusing on DUI cases in Hillsborough County allows us to be familiar with the tactics used by TPD's DUI enforcement unit and the breath test machines used at the Central Breath testing facility at Orient Road Jail.

Our focus allows us to be familiar the mistakes made by officers with the Tampa Police Department and the problems with Hillsborough County's breath test instruments. Call 813-250-0500 to speak directly with an attorney about the facts of your case.

Scandals with the Tampa DUI Enforcement Unit

DUI enforcement officers should not engage in schemes to "set up" or entrap an individual and then make false allegations of DUI. Yet for eight months the Tampa Police Department attempted to ignore and make excuses for the conduct of Sgt. Ray Fernandez, a DUI squad supervisor, even though it quickly become apparent to the public that he committed serious acts of wrongdoing on several separate occasions.

Sgt. Ray Fernandez was a 19 year veteran of the department. Those acts include making improper arrests and targeting individuals. It was not until September of 2013, the Sgt. Ray Fernandez was finally fired.

After months of ignoring the problem, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor fired Fernandez for lack of truthfulness, misuse of authority and failure to meet the department’s standards of conduct, professional responsibility and philosophy of enforcement.

The scandal revolved around an arrest on January 23, 2013. That arrest involved the DUI arrest of Campbell, who was in the middle of a high-profile defamation trial between dueling radio disc jockeys “MJ” Todd Schnitt and Bubba the Love Sponge Clem. The DUI accusation was a set up by his opposing counsel who used their pretty paralegal and their connections with Sgt. Ray Fernandez to target the attorney and set him up for a DUI arrest.

In the aftermath of the scandal, TPD formed a six-member team, made up of a judge, a prosecutor, a state law enforcement official and three Tampa police officers. That team recommended nine changes to the existing TPD DUI enforcement policy, including video cameras in patrol cars of DUI squad supervisors, expansion of field sobriety tests and more thorough reports. The TPD DUI enforcement unit was also decentralized into four squads operating in each of the four districts.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn made a statement about the scandal with Tampa Police Department's DUI Unit after it was rocked with scandal. He released the following statement:

"Over the last week, Chief Castor has decentralized the DUI unit and assembled a team of trusted professionals from both inside and outside of the department to review Fernandez and McGinnis' cases as well as random sampling of other DUI cases. These steps can assure the public that the Tampa Police Department handles DUI cases appropriately and that the department will continue to serve our community with the integrity and professionalism that it is recognized for.

"The actions of any one individual should not reflect on the entire department. The fate of the officer involved in the incident will be determined at a later date, but the larger issue of how the DUI unit operates is being dealt with today. Rest assured that if the investigation proves incompetence or a gross violation of the officer involved, actions will be swift and appropriate."

DUI Statistics as Reported by the Tampa Police Department

The Tampa Police Department's Media Relations Department has reported that the City of Tampa is number two (2) in the state of Florida for traffic fatalities and number three (3) for alcohol-related traffic fatalities.

As a result of the high number of DUI accidents in Tampa, the Florida Department of Transportation recently provided the Tampa Police Department with a grant of $127,166. The grant money will be used to DUI enforcement beginning in late December of 2012 through all of 2013.

More DUI enforcement officers will be on patrol during peak holidays including the Fourth of July weekend and the summer months. For these increased patrols, the grant money covers additional overtime paid to the officer to arrest individuals for DUI and BUI (boating under the influence).

According to the Tampa Police Department, in 2011, there were 2,188 people arrested for DUI within the City of Tampa, as well as 244 alcohol related crashes and 14 fatalities (alcohol related can include passengers that have consumed alcohol even if the alcohol consumption did not contribute to the accident).

The TPD media relations department uses social media efforts, including Twitter and videos on YouTube to remind drivers of the dangers of drinking and driving.

TPD's List of Hot Spots for DUI Arrests

The TPD officers consistently frequent certain parts of the city. In fact, their website included a "Top 10 List of Locations for DUI Arrests in the City of Tampa." That list included these top 10 hot spots:

  • The Channelside District (which includes popular dinning, bars, night clubs, the exit and entrance for Tampa commercial cruises, and visitors of the Tampa Bay Lightning game at the St Pete Times Forum);
  • The Courtney Campbell Causeway (western portions of State Road 60 which connects Tampa to Clearwater);
  • The northern half of the Dale Mabry Corridor (from Hillsborough Avenue to Kennedy Boulevard near Mons Venus, George M. Steinbrenner Field, Raymond James Stadium and the Tampa International Airport);
  • The Hillsborough Avenue Corridor (from I-275 to Dale Mabry);
  • NOHO (which is short for North Howard Avenue which runs from Kennedy Boulevard to I-275 near the University of Tampa);
  • Kennedy Corridor (Dale Mabry to the Hillsborough River);
  • Nebraska Avenue (from Fowler Avenue to Waters Avenue);
  • SOHO (which is short for "South Howard Avenue" which is Hyde Park's entertainment district that starts at Kennedy Boulevard and runs through Cleveland Street, Platt Street and Swann Avenue);
  • Tampa Palms; and
  • Ybor City.

Training Requirements for Tampa Police Department DUI Officers

The twelve officers with the Tampa Police Department DUI enforcement unit have all completed a course by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (called "NHTSA") called "Detection and Apprehension of Impaired Drivers." Many of the TPD DUI officers have received additional training to be "DUI Instructors."

TPD Standard Operating Procedures

TPD Standard Operating Procedures (PDF 12 MB) - Read more about the standard operating procedures required for DUI enforcement officers with the TPD including a requirement that the entire DUI investigation is audio and video recorded.

TPD's System of In-Vehicle Video Recording

The standard operating procedures for DUI enforcement requires the officers to video record their DUI investigations. These videos should include the initial driving patters (when the stop is conducted by a DUI enforcement officer), the initial encounter with the driver, the request for roadside agility exercises (often called "standard field sobriety exercises"), the arrest, and the transportation to Hillsborough County's Central Breath Testing facility at the Orient Road Jail.

If the officer violates this policy or claims that the in-vehicle video recording equipment was not working properly, then the defense attorney can move to dismiss the entire case or at least the officer's testimony about facts that should have been recorded. The officers should also follow certain procedures when the equipment is not working property so that individual officers in the field cannot decide when to use the equipment.

TPD's Zero Tolerance of Under-aged Driver's Who Drink

Each officer with the Tampa Police Department DUI enforcement unit is assigned a portable breath-testing device that can be used to test under-aged drivers at the scene of the stop whenever a driver under the age of 21 is stopped during a DUI investigation.

TPD's Wolfpack Operations for DUI Enforcement

The Wolfpack Operations by the Tampa Police Department include "aggressive" patrols around certain areas that TPD determines to be traveled frequently by drunk or impaired drivers. Unlike DUI roadblock and checkpoint operations, the Wolfpack Operations occur without any prior warning or guidelines.

Association of TPD with Community Organizations Opposed to Alcohol

The Tampa Police Department has a longstanding relationship with the Tampa Alcohol Coalition (TAC) and the Hillsborough County Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

You can also follow the Tampa Police Department on Facebook. TPD has recently produced a series of educational videos covering a variety of law enforcement issues and community outreach activities. Also find employment information from the Tampa Police Department including job and salary information.

Update on TPD's Latest DUI Scandal

Update on November 8, 2013: The Tampa Police Department's grievance response team denied Sgt. Ray Fernandez's appeal to get his job back after it found the discipline administered was appropriate.

Update: August 25, 2013: Sgt. Raymond "Ray" Fernandez was the supervisor of the Tampa Police Department's DUI unit. In May of 2013 he was removed from that position and relocated into a desk job with the special operations division which coordinates security at events throughout the City of Tampa. He subsequently resigned from TPD.

Although the Tampa Police Department ("TPD") said the move was not part of a disciplinary action it came at a time when Sgt. Ray Fernandez was under investigation for engaging in civil rights violations, official misconduct and malicious prosecution related to the stop and arrest of an attorney in Tampa named C. Philip Campbell, Jr., on January 23, 2013.

In early August of 2013, the Chief of Police for the Tampa Police Department, Jane Castor, announced that she would reorganize TPD's DUI enforcement unit in an effort to provide "more supervision and more oversight." Starting August 4, 2013, the TPD DUI enforcement unit will be spread out from one chain of command to three districts. So instead of Sgt. Ray Fernandez supervising the 12 DUI enforcement officers, TPD will now have the district commanders of each of the three districts supervise the DUI enforcement officers.

TPD's DUI Enforcement Unit under Sgt. Ray Fernandez

Previously, TPD's DUI enforcement unit includes twelve (12) uniformed officers, two (2) Corporals and Sergeant Ray Fernandez. The TPD DUI unit works seven days a week focusing on patrols and backup for other officers during the evening and early morning hours.

Although the City of Tampa has about one-third of the total population in Hillsborough County, the Tampa Police Department makes about nearly one-half of the arrests for DUI cases in the entire county. In 2011, officers with the Tampa Police Department made 2,188 arrests for DUI.

DUI Resources for Tampa Police Department's Drunk Driving Unit

Tampa Police Department's DUI Unit - Read more about the Tampa Police Department's DUI enforcement efforts including information on in-car video systems to record everything from the traffic pattern to field sobriety exercises to the arrest to the transportation to the jail. This page on TPD's DUI enforcement unit also provides information on common DUI myths, its relationship with the Hillsborough County Chapter of MADD, TPD's Wolfpack Operation, and TPD's list of the 10 ten arrest locations.

Tampa Police Department Headquarters
One Police Center
411 N. Franklin Street
Tampa, Florida 33602

Tampa Police Department Records Section - Call (813) 276-3250 for inquiries concerning reports kept by the Tampa Police Department's Records Section.

Tampa Police Department Delayed Crime Reporting- TPD wants you to use this service to report crimes that are non-emergency crimes handled by the TPD District Latent Investigation Squads. These crimes include Identity Theft, Lost or Found Property, Vehicle Burglary, Grand and Petty Thefts, Stolen Tags and Vehicles, Forgeries, Criminal Mischief (Vandalism), Harassing or Threatening Phone Calls, and Lost or Stolen Cellular Phones.

Finding an Attorney after a DUI Arrest by TPD

Call a DUI attorney with the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your DUI arrest and encounter with a DUI enforcement officer with the Tampa Police Department. We focus on DUI cases in Hillsborough County, Florida. Let us put our experience to work for you. Read more about our DUI case results after an arrest by a DUI enforcement officer with TPD.

This article was last updated on Friday, June 9, 2017.