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DUI in Pinellas County, FL

The majority of DUI arrests in Pinellas County are made by deputies with the sheriff’s office. The jurisdiction of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office covers the fourteen cities under contract with PCSO for primary law enforcement services and all unincorporated areas of the county. PCSO’s jurisdiction covers more than 600 square miles and a population of more than 940,000.

In Pinellas County, FL, the other law enforcement agencies that conduct DUI investigations include the Florida Highway Patrol and the following local police departments:

  • Clearwater Police Department
  • Indian Shores Police Department
  • Kenneth City Police Department
  • Largo Police Department
  • Pinellas Park Police Department
  • St. Petersburg Police Department
  • Tarpon Springs Police Department

Officers in these agencies often focus on enforcing DUI laws. These DUI enforcement officers have special training to conduct Field Sobriety Exercises. Some of the officers are Drug Recognition Evaluators (DRE) or certified DRE Instructors.

Attorney for DUI in Pinellas County, FL

After a DUI arrest, you need an attorney focused on defending people charged with drunk or impaired driving. If you were arrested for DUI by a law enforcement officer in Pinellas County, then contact Sammis Law Firm.

Our attorneys are familiar with the policies and procedures used by the Sheriff’s Office DUI Unit and officers that participate in quarterly multi-jurisdictional county-wide DUI Wolf Pack operations or saturation patrols. We represent clients after a DUI blood test, breath test, urine test, or refusal to submit to testing. Whether this is your first DUI or a second or subsequent offense, we can help.

Our main office is located in Tampa in Hillsborough County, FL. We have a second office in Clearwater in Pinellas County and New Port Richey in Pasco County, FL. We represent clients charged with DUI in Pasco County, Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, and Polk County, FL.

Call 813-250-0500.

DUI Wolf Pack in Pinellas County, FL

Throughout the year, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office focused on the enforcement of DUI laws and increasing the number of DUI arrests by conducting “DUI Wolf Pack” operations. During the saturation patrols, Patrol, Community Policing, K-9, and Narcotics deputies are on the lookout for alcohol and drug-impaired drivers. Along with impaired drivers, PCSO deputies look for driver’s license, registration, equipment, and insurance violations.

The Wolf Pack is part of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s ongoing commitment to increasing the number of DUI arrests made in the county. The operations are intended to reduce deaths, injuries, and property damage associated with traffic crashes related to impaired driving. The goal of the Wolf Pack is to educate people and create public awareness about the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and any chemical or controlled substances.

In addition to the DUI Wolf Pack, with a grant from FDOT, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has increased the number of deputies on the road during holidays for the purpose of removing impaired drivers from the roadways. During saturation patrols, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Mobile Command Bus might be used for breath testing and the processing of arrested individuals.

Agencies in Florida have largely stopped organizing DUI sobriety checkpoints because they are often found to be unconstitutional by the courts. Other traffic safety events in Pinellas County include the Road Safety Assessment program, Click it or Ticket, and Back to School Traffic Safety.

PCSO’s Selective Traffic Enforcement Program Unit (STEP Unit)

With a full-service traffic enforcement program, PSCO relies on the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program Unit (STEP Unit). The STEP Unit has two separate squads including the Traffic Enforcement Unit and the DUI Enforcement Unit, The focus of PCSO’s Traffic Enforcement Unit is traffic-related problems, especially in high-traffic areas such as school zones.

As an eight-person unit, the focus of PCSO”s DUI unit is removing drunk and impaired driver’s from the roadways through DUI enforcement. These officers primarily patrol at night and on weekends when the number of DUI incidents is higher.

With fourteen Drug Recognition Experts (DRE), including three certified DRE Instructors, deputies on the PCSO DUI unit receive extra training focused on the investigation of drunk and impaired driving. In fact, all of the deputies on the PCSO DUI unit are required to successfully complete the Drug Recognition Expert course within the first eighteen months of their assignment on the DUI Unit.

For DREs employed at PCSO, the Sheriff’s Office provides training program each quarter including a review of any modifications or updates to the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DECP), inspection and replacement of DRE equipment, and evaluations with certified DRE Instructors.

Deputies on the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office DUI Unit help with other community functions including:

  • Student Against Drunk Driving (SADD) Presentations;
  • Sheriff’s Office Citizens Academy; and
  • Pinellas County’s Monthly Victim Impact Panels.

BUI Investigations with the PCSO’s Marine Unit

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office focuses on maintaining safe waterways, especially since the county is surrounded by water on three sides. Boating and water sports are particularly common in the county.

The Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit in Pinellas County helps with investigating drunk or impaired boat operators for BUI throughout the county. The deputies on the Marine Unit with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office also work with deputies on the STEP Unit (Traffic Enforcement Unit or DUI Enforcement Unit).

Deputies on the Marine Patrol in Pinellas County also participate in Boating Safety Awareness Campaigns throughout the year.

Recent DUI Enforcement Efforts in Pinellas County

Deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) just released the results of an overnight DUI Wolf Pack in Pinellas County. The press release is numbered 19-105 and was published on the PCSO website on July 6, 2019. This overnight DUI Wolf Pack operation was conducted on a county-wide basis over the 4th of July Holiday Weekend.

During the event, deputies and other law enforcement officers in Pinellas County monitored traffic looking for civil or criminal violations. The operation began at 7 p.m., on Friday, July 5, 2019, and continued until 5 a.m., Saturday, July 6, 2019. The Wolf Pack operation resulted in 41 total misdemeanor and felony charges including:

  • 22 DUI charges
  • 7 driving while licenses suspended or revoked (DWLSR) with knowledge charges;
  • 6 felony drug charges;
  • 2 misdemeanor drug charges;
  • 2 other felony charges;
  • 1 other misdemeanor charge.

For the entire DUI enforcement operation that weekend, a total of 159 traffic citations were issued.

Officers who participated in the DUI Wolf Pack operation including deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in the Patrol Operations Bureau, STEP Unit, DUI Enforcement Unit, and Traffic Enforcement Unit. Officers with the Florida Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies also participate.

The Pinellas Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) organization provided food and drinks for the law enforcement officers participating in the event. Other non-profit organizations involved in the DUI enforcement operations included the Chaplains Outreach Ministries, the Suncoast Safety Council, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.).

Additional Resources

DUI School in Pinellas County – You cannot complete a DUI school online. Instead, you must attend DUI school in the county in which you live or work. If you live or work in Pinellas County, FL, then you can enroll for DUI school at Suncoast Safety Council with locations in Clearwater and St. Petersburg. You can register in-person for DUI school with Suncoast Safety Council at one of two (2) locations or complete pre-registration through a secure online service. The Level I Drug and Alcohol Education Course at Suncoat Safety Council includes twelve (12) hours of classroom instruction offered over two days and an evaluation with the possibility of follow-up treatment if recommended. The fee for level I DUI school is $296.50 which includes the  State Assessment Fee, a copy of the Florida lifetime driving record, and the Driver Risk Inventory questionnaire.

Contact Information:

Suncoast Safety Council, Inc.
1145 Court Street
Clearwater, FL 33756
Telephone: 727-442-0233
Fax: 727-447-1677

MADD Honors DUI Enforcement with Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office – In a blog article dated May 28, 2019, MADD highlights the top honorees from the recognition ceremony in 2018. Sergeant Mike Eastty, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, was nominated for “Outstanding Dedication to DUI Enforcement and Prevention.” Learn more about the MADD title for the top honorees in DUI enforcement and prevention. The award recognizes efforts to combat impaired and drunk driving.

This article was last updated on Friday, July 22, 2022.