The Problem with USF DUI Checkpoints

DUI Checkpoints are highly ineffective. On February 27, 2016, the University of South Florida Police Department conducted a DUI checkpoint on 50th Street near the USF Catholic Student Center.

According to Cpl. Scott Parker’s after-action report / critique, there were 441 vehicles stopped at the checkpoint. Out of all of those people delayed in the checkpoint, no one was arrested for DUI. Only one arrest was made for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Today, that case was dropped by the prosecutor after a motion to suppress was filed in the case showing that the checkpoint did not pass constitutional muster.

In preparation for the motion hearing, we were provided with a copy of the 9 page operation plan, the checkpoint assignment and sign in sheet for the 12 officers that participated, a diagram of the set up of the checkpoint, and an after-action report / critique.

We were able to cut and paste the operational plan and after-action report below.

The report claims that “there were no delays during the checkpoint” which doesn’t seem plausible since 441 vehicles went through the checkpoint and supposedly all of them were stopped.

The report also explains that one citizen became so aggravated by the checkpoint that she actually called 911 to report the officers for illegally detaining her. The report says that “[p]ost de-escalation” the citizen was given advice on not misusing the 911 system and potential consequences before she was finally released.

What is the point of the checkpoints? It is my understanding that the officers are required to conduct the checkpoints in order to receive federal grant money.

Read the operation plan and after-action report to let us know what you think. Feel free to leave your own critique.

If you get arrested in a checkpoint, be sure that your attorney files and litigates a motion to suppress the evidence because of inevitable problems with the operational plan and the officer’s failure to comply with the plan during the operation.

In many of these cases, the prosecutors have little choice but to drop the charges after the appropriate motions are filed.

You can also read more about a recent checkpoint conducted by the Tampa Police Department. The TPD plan had even bigger problems. Although the officers were required to stop every 5th vehicle, TPD reported the officers pulled over 48% of the 66 vehicles that were diverted through the checkpoint.


University of South Florida

Police Department


Comprehensive Roadside Safety & Sobriety

Checkpoint – Saturation Patrol to follow

Date: 2/27/16

Checkpoint Location: 50th Street / USF Catholic Student Center

Between the hours of 2100 and 2300 hrs

Saturation Patrol:

Campus Wide / Full Jurisdiction

Operations Command Officer: Scott Parker #51


The University of South Florida Police Department will be conducting a Comprehensive Traffic Safety Checkpoint.

The primary focus of this operation will be on driver’s who choose to drive under the influence of alcohol and /or other impairing substances and to promote awareness of safe driving. The goal of this operation is to adopt zero tolerance for the possession of any quantity of alcohol, chemical or controlled substance found in the possession of any such person as prohibited by law; to identify, apprehend and incarcerate any person who is operating a vehicle impaired and to deter those who might otherwise attempt to drive while under the influence.

Secondly, this operation will also focus on the detection of improper or unsafe vehicle violations, seat belt and child restraint violations, driving while license suspended or revoked, and any other violation under Florida State law in accordance with Florida State Statutes Chapters 316, 320, and 322.

Lastly, the detection and enforcement of any other criminal violations committed in violation of Florida Statute.


University of South Florida Police Department

Other Agency’s Invited Personnel (Mutual Aid Agreements)


Checkpoint location: 50th Street at the USF Catholic Student Center (13005 50th Street, Tampa FL 33613)

The location for this checkpoint will be on 50th Street at the Catholic Student Center (North of USF Elm Drive). This checkpoint will focus on North Bound Traffic Only.

This location was chosen due to its high visibility to the students, faculty, staff and visitors on the University of South Florida Campus. In addition, this location is also a frequent point of DUI investigations and dangerous traffic infractions on the University of South Florida property.

It is also important to note that Hillsborough County is annually in the top percentages in DUI related crashes and incidents.
An exit point is provided at USF Elm Drive which is adjacent to 50th Street and allows traffic to move to the South and West of the checkpoint. Vehicles choosing to utilize this exit point will not be stopped based solely on using this roadway to avoid the checkpoint, and will only be stopped based upon articulable reasonable suspicion and probable cause to include independent traffic violations.

Final site determination takes into consideration the site distance, roadway configuration, and traffic volume, proximity to operating businesses, lighting conditions, field sobriety task administration, and motorist safety.

Primary consideration is officer safety. The checkpoint will not operate during periods of dense fog, visibility of less than 600 feet, or during rainstorms.

The decision to conduct or cancel the checkpoint operation shall be made by the Operations Supervisor. The Operations Supervisor may call for an early termination of the checkpoint due to weather conditions, a decrease of traffic volume and / or a decrease of manpower.

The checkpoint(s) will occur within the time frame as outlined in the guidelines, but they do not have to start at exactly the given time or end at exactly the given time.



The selected location is a 2 lane road. The checkpoint will be set for North Bound traffic.

The traffic cones will be DOT approved 36” tall with double reflective collars; they will be spaced approximately 25 to 40 feet part, but no greater than 50 feet apart. Marked patrol cars and / or other selected law enforcement will be utilized to warn the oncoming motorist of the checkpoint.

The Secondary Contact Area which encompasses issuance of citations, vehicles for tow, field sobriety task, and Command Center will be located in the north end of the USF Catholic Center Parking Lot, which is adjacent to 50th Street.

A reflective sign advising “CHECKPOINT AHEAD” will be posted a greater than 200 feet prior to the checkpoint line officers to allow motorists ample time to choose an alternate route.

A reflective sign advising “BE PREPARED TO STOP” will be placed at the entrance to the checkpoint. Once a vehicle enters into this area they will be subject to contact.



OPERATIONS SUPERVISOR: The lead member of checkpoint, regardless of rank, designated to coordinate all checkpoint operations and activities including briefing, debriefing, staffing, operations and overall supervision.

The operations supervisor is additionally responsible for ensuring the safety of motorists and member’s participation in the checkpoint operation. This officer shall be responsible for preparing the primary and alternate site and all required paperwork and documentation for each checkpoint.

They will ensure that the line is staffed and properly equipped with the necessary processing paperwork. They will ensure the appropriate set-up of a video camera system; violator processing area and vehicle impoundment area. The assistant Operations Supervisor may at the request of the Operations Supervisor take over the Operations Supervisor duties at any time during the operation.

ASSISTANT OPERATIONS SUPERVISOR: The Assistant to the Operations Supervisor is designated to assist with personnel during the Sobriety Checkpoint. The Assistant Operations Supervisor can delegate any of the aforementioned actions of the Operations Supervisor during the Sobriety Checkpoint operation.

PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER (PIO): This person shall be responsible for the dissemination of information pertaining to the checkpoint of accredited news agencies and their representatives. They do not need to be onsite at the time of the checkpoint.

CHECKPOINT LINE OFFICER (CLO): These officers will be responsible for stopping all vehicles at the designated stopping area, making contacts with the driver, requesting drivers’ licenses, registrations, and insurance documentations, checking for signs of intoxication and other violations.

The CLO may take enforcement action on any violation of the law that they observe. If an impaired driver is detected, the CLO will be responsible for the arrest procedures and paperwork. When a minor infraction is detected, the CLO will direct the violator’s vehicle to the secondary contact area. In the case of a suspected DUI, driver’s license violation or custodial arrest offense when probable cause exists, the driver will not be allowed to continue operating the vehicle. The driver will be detained and processed in accordance with Florida State Statute and the officer’s departmental Standard Operating Procedures.

CHASE VEHICLE OFFICERS (CVO): Chase Vehicle Officers will be assigned to the perimeter of the Sobriety Checkpoint and are to stop vehicles based upon articulable reasonable suspicion and probable cause. In addition, they will follow agency procedure and state law in respect to pursuing any driver of a motor vehicle who comes to their lawful attention as part of the Sobriety Checkpoint. Avoiding the Sobriety Checkpoint alone is not sufficient cause to stop the vehicle, driver, and / or occupants; however, any vehicle avoiding the Sobriety Checkpoint may be followed to determine if there are articulable reasons to lawfully stop the vehicle.

TRANSPORTATION / BOOKING OFFICERS: In the event the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office does not provide a joint operation, on-site, satellite booking procedure in conjunction with this Sobriety Checkpoint, then each assigned officer will be responsible for transporting their own arrestee(s) to central intake, unless otherwise specified by the Operations Supervisor.

VEHICLE INVENTORY OFFICERS (VIO): If the operation size dictates, Vehicle Inventory Officers will be responsible for moving vehicles out of the checkpoint lanes in the event the driver is removed and detained for further investigation. Additionally, Vehicle Inventory Officers will process all vehicles for impound during the assignment at the Sobriety Checkpoint. They will also be responsible for releasing the vehicle in conjunction with agency policy should the opportunity arise. Vehicle Inventory Officers will handle any animals, weapons, etc., found inside the vehicles as part of the investigation.

DATA COLLECTION SCRIBE (DCS): The Data Collection Scribe is responsible for recording the number of vehicles which pass through the checkpoint, the number of vehicles stopped and the average length of delay. The DCS also documents any traffic deviations.

DRUG RECOGNITION EXPERT (DRE): Whenever possible the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) will be assigned as a Checkpoint Line Officer at the Sobriety / Safety Checkpoint. The Officer will assist in the Secondary Contact Area as needed.

CANINE DEPUTY (K-9): The Canine Deputy, if available, will be responsible for conducting narcotics searches upon the request of Contact Officers who have a reasonable suspicion that narcotics are in a vehicle stopped in the secondary contact area. The canine will not be utilized to examine vehicles in any other manner during this detail. The canine deputy will document all deployments of the canine whether or not narcotics are located in the stopped vehicle.

INTOXILYZER OPERATOR: A certified Intoxilyzer Operator, if available, will obtain all breath or urine samples and/or secure any blood evidence. They will also complete the required forms and give them to the arresting officer prior to transport and booking.


  • Safety and Sobriety Checkpoints minimum staffing requirements will be composed of one operations supervisor, assistant operations supervisor, checkpoint line officers, and one scriber. Other assigned duties may be assigned by the Operations Supervisor and documented on the sign in sheet. The operations supervisor will have the authority to combine job descriptions and / or to assign more than one person to a job assignment. It is not a requirement that all jobs listed in section 2 be filled.
  • All checkpoint members will be in a department issued uniform and wearing traffic safety vests or reflective uniform at all times while in public view. Officers working the checkpoint at night will use a flashlight and use a traffic cone, if needed.
  • Checkpoint members not actively involved in traffic control, log duties, or screening should be positioned to observe traffic in a safe area and be immediately available to provide assistance as needed. Duties should be rotated periodically to prevent undue fatigue.


  • Primary Count – every 3rd vehicle
  • Alternate Count – every 5th vehicle
  • Alternate Count – every 10th vehicle
  • Two considerations to determine the sequence of screening at this location are traffic volume and the experience of the members of the checkpoint team. The operations supervisor shall monitor traffic to ensure that a backup of vehicles does not occur. If delays of more than five (5) to seven (7) minutes occur, but no more than ten (10), the operations supervisor may order alternate vehicles as specific in the operational plan. If the traffic conditions cause an unnecessary delay that cannot be easily alleviated by alternate vehicles, the operations supervisor may temporarily suspend the checkpoint until the unnecessary delay has been cleared. The method used to clear the traffic will be to allow 5 , 10 or 15 cars to pass through and then begin with either the primary or alternate count as deemed necessary by the operations supervisor and dictated by traffic volume and number of line personnel.
  • As deemed necessary, a vehicle shall be selected and timed through the checkpoint lanes and the time documented in the operations record of the checkpoint. If delays of more than ten minutes occur, the Operations Supervisor may order alternate vehicles checked as specified in the contingency plan. Any suspension or deviation from the established operational plan shall be documented in the operations record of the checkpoint.
  • In the event a motor vehicle operator does not comply with the lawful direction of Sobriety Checkpoint personnel, then any officer working the Sobriety Checkpoint can follow the associated laws, policies, and procedures to gain compliance, detain, or arrest the violator.


  • After initial contact, a driver that does not show signs of impairment or who do not have any other violations will be directed to move forward and past the checkpoint without further delay. Drivers who pass through the checkpoint with noted violations will be directed to the Secondary Contact Area.
  • All vehicles, regardless of type, that enter into the checkpoint shall be subject to screening. This shall include commercial vehicles such as buses and large trucks. Emergency vehicles operating in the scope of their duties shall be exempt from the screening. Fire Rescue and Ambulance services shall be notified in advance of the location and time of the checkpoint. Should an emergency vehicle approach and or enter into the DUI / Safety checkpoint with their emergency lights and / or siren operating; they shall be moved through the DUI / Safety Checkpoint with no or minimal delay.
  • Vehicles shall not be stopped on a discretionary basis (i.e. profiling). However, this does not preclude stopping a vehicle when the driver exhibits obvious signs of impairment.
  • It is recommended but not mandated that a minimum of two checkpoint line officers (CLO) will approach each contact vehicle. One will act as the contact officer and the other will be the cover officer. The CLO’s can alternate positions to prevent fatigue. When approaching a vehicle, CLO’s shall scan the interior and occupants with a flashlight, if needed, for weapons and / or contraband such as open containers of alcoholic beverages. Upon determining that no hazards exist, the contact officer shall greet the driver of the vehicle in a courteous manner, advise the driver of our reason for stopping them and request the required documentation. 
Standardized Greeting: All Checkpoint Line Officers will say, “Good evening/morning, I am (Rank) (Name) with the (Agency), and we are conducting a Safety & Sobriety Checkpoint. May I see your driver’s license please?”
  • While waiting for the driver to produce the required documents, the CLO should be looking and/or smelling for indicators of DUI. If the driver does not appear to be under the influence the contact officer with the assistance of the cover officer will inspect the required equipment on the vehicle. After completing contact with the vehicle the officer will then provide the driver with handout material, if available, and allow him / her to proceed. If equipment violation(s) are discovered, the cover officer will note these violation(s). The driver will then be directed to pull the vehicle into the secondary contact staging area where an officer will address the violation(s).
  • If the driver appears to be under the influence, the officer should wait until he / she has obtained the license from the driver so that he / she can observe the driver’s manual dexterity. The contact officer will then ask the driver to walk to the field sobriety tasks area for evaluation. The results of the evaluation will dictate the course of action taken by the contact officer.
  • If the driver is under 21 years of age and probable cause does not exist for the arrest of the underage driver for DUI, but there are indicators that the driver has been drinking, the on scene Intoxilyzer 8000 and/or handheld portable breath tester (PBT) can be used to determine if the driver is in violation of the Zero Tolerance Statue.


  • {X} Included with this operation
  • { } Not included with this operation
  • The primary focus of this operation will be on driver’s who choose to drive under the influence of alcohol and / or other harmful substances and to promote awareness of safe driving. The goal of this operation is to proactively enforce the possession of any quantity of alcohol, chemical, and/or controlled substance found in the possession of any such person as prohibited by law; to identify, apprehend and incarcerate any person who is operating a vehicle impaired and to deter those who might otherwise attempt to drive impaired.
  • There will also be a focus seat belt and child restraint violations, driving while license suspended or revoked, and any other violation under Florida State law in accordance with Florida State Law Chapters 316, 320 and 322. 
Lastly, officers involved in the saturation patrol will appropriately enforce of any other criminal violations committed in violation of Florida Statutes.


  • All officers are to submit their traffic citation and arrest paperwork to their respective agencies.
  • Personnel will use their agency case number for any arrest made in accordance to their agency policy.
  • All statistics for the operation will be reported to the Operation Supervisor and/or Assistant Operation Supervisor prior to leaving the checkpoint.
  • There will be a pre-operation briefing prior to starting the checkpoint.
  • A detailed after-action report will be completed and turned in by the Operation Supervisor and/or the Assistant Operation Supervisor.


TRAFFIC CONES / CHECKPOINT LIGHTING TO INCLUDE FLARES: Along the center of 50th Street as established by M.O.T work plan.

CHECKPOINT SIGNS (“CHECKPOINT AHEAD”/ “BE PREPARED TO STOP”): Along 50th Street at USF Elm Drive and prior to the entrance of the checkpoint as established by M.O.T work zone plan.

STOP SIGN: N/A – Stop Sign not needed as the contact area is a controlled lot


  • All personnel selected to participate in the enforcement detail will attend the pre-operation briefing. A pre-operation briefing attendance will be signed by all participants stating that they have received either a hard copy or an email copy of the plan and understand their assigned duties.
  • BRIEFING LOCATION(S): All personnel will report to the University of South Florida Police Department at 2000 hours for briefing.
  • At the pre-designated or spontaneous (reason) OC Discretion conclusion of (Weather, inactivity, other)
  • This specific Sobriety Checkpoint, there will be a de-briefing for all involved personnel. All personnel will address any deviations from the plan and allow documentation on the After- Action Report. All personnel will sign out at the conclusion of the Sobriety Checkpoint at this time. Any personnel who must leave the Sobriety Checkpoint while under operation will sign out on the assignment sheet/roster with the Operations Supervisor or his/her approved designee.


Any non-sworn personnel, i.e., MADD, SADD, etc., who wish to provide educational and/or awareness literature regarding a component of the Sobriety Checkpoint, will be located in a designated area of the operation and for safety purposes will not be permitted inside the checkpoint lanes.


All personnel will follow their respective agency guidelines regarding incident and offense reporting, as well as use of force, etc. An advanced copy of this Sobriety Checkpoint plan will be forwarded to the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office and the Hillsborough County Driver’s License Hearing Office. This will be the responsibility of the affected Operations Supervisor.


Advanced administrative notification of this specific Sobriety Checkpoint was done by Lieutenant Charlotte Domingo of the University of South Florida Police Department by means of a News Release provided a minimum of 24 hours before the commencement of this Sobriety Checkpoint. In addition, this checkpoint has been advertised on the USF Police website as well as utilizing social media (USFPD Facebook).




Upon completion of the Checkpoint, a written report will be forwarded to the Enforcement Operations Bureau Commander containing statistics, an evaluation of the operation, and recommendations for future operations. At a minimum, the following information will be gathered during the Checkpoint operation:

1  Date/location of Checkpoint

2  Checkpoint evaluation

3  Recommendation(s) regarding future operations

4  Delay Periods (number of occurrences and delay time)

5  Number of motorists stopped

6  Number of vehicles waived through Checkpoint

7  Number of arrests, by offense

8  Number of citations written

9  Number of faulty equipment citations

10  Copy of press release


University of South Florida

Police Department


To: Lt. Marckese

From: Cpl. Scott Parker

Date: 2/27/16

Subject: Checkpoint No. 2016-07

After-Action Report/Critique

  1. Date/location of Checkpoint:

The checkpoint was conducted at the prescribed location on the prescribed date and time.

  1. Checkpoint Evaluation:

There was one (1) arrest during this checkpoint for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. That offense number is 16-000423.

One vehicle that was stopped required supervisor assistance (Parker) after the driver became irate and called 911 when she was not allowed to leave. Post de-escalation, advice was given to the driver in regards to misuse of 911 systems and potential consequences.

It should be noted that this checkpoint was conducted with a multi-agency presence to include TTPD. TTPD provided a total of 7 additional officers to supplement USFPD

  1. Recommendation(s) regarding future operations:


  1. Delay Periods (number of occurrences and delay time):

There were no delays during this checkpoint

  1. Number of motorists stopped:

There were 441 vehicles stopped in this checkpoint.

  1. Number of vehicles waived through Checkpoint:

There were no vehicles waived through this checkpoint

  1. Number of arrests, by offense:

1 arrest for misdemeanor possession of marijuana with an offense # of 16-000XXX. The subject was released with a court date.

  1. Number of citations written:

There was 1 UTT issued during this checkpoint.
There were 1 WW issued during this checkpoint.
There was 2 stops with no action taken during this checkpoint

  1. Number of faulty equipment citations:


  1. Copy of Press Release/List of Media outlets notified prior to Checkpoint:

Advanced administrative notification of this specific Sobriety Checkpoint was provided by Lt. D. Marckese of the University of South Florida Police Department by means of a News Release and Facebook post provided 24 hours before the commencement of this Sobriety Checkpoint. This Checkpoint was also advertised on social media through the USFPD Facebook page.

  1. Totals:

Number of Vehicles Checked:

Number of DUI Arrests/Officer’s Name: 0

Number of Felony Arrests/Officer’s Name: 0

Number of Other Arrests/Officer’s Name: 1, Vickers

Number of Citations Issued/Officer’s Name: 1, Hobson

The following information is related to the scheduled saturation patrol that followed the checkpoint:

USFPD conducted 15 traffic stops with 7 UTT issued and 9 WW issued. There were no arrests by USFPD officers during this saturation patrol.

Temple Terrace officers conducted a total number of 25 traffic stops with 1 UTT issued and 22 WW issued. There was 1 arrest for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and DUI by TTPD. Cpl. Parker from USFPD conducted a DRE evaluation on the arrestee after breath samples of .000 / .000 were provided.


  1. If at the lowest threshold you checked 441 vehicles, x 3 as per their operational plan, that would mean 1323 cars total went through the checkpoint.

    The operational plan was for two hours, 2100-2300 hours. So that by their own statistics means approximately 611 cars per hour, now on an average of 3-5 minutes per car, that is impossible to do with no backup of traffic and cannot be done without a minimum of 100 officers checking cars, so that’s a lie, which is not uncommon on these what I consider unconstitutional stoppages. Although the Supreme Court disagrees with me.

    Once any part of the plan is violated it throws any arrests into an area for a motion to suppress.

    Retired HCSO Deputy and now Legal Investigator.

    1. I think the average of 3-5 minutes per car was only those vehicles directed into the checkpoint and the other vehicles just drove through with little to no contact (other than being waived through)? I’m not sure because their report doesn’t give enough information and contradicts itself in several ways.

Comments are closed.

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