The Selective Traffic Enforcement Patrol Unit (S.T.E.P.) The S.T.E.P. Unit is part of the Traffic Enforcement Section of the Sheriff’s Office which also contains the Motor Unit. The S.T.E.P. Unit uses six deputies to actively enforce traffic laws in Pasco County mainly during the nighttime hours which have a higher rate or alcohol and/or drug related crashes. The unit’s goal is to reduce the collisions involving alcohol and narcotics. The unit’s main function is the detection and apprehension of drivers who are suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. All of the members have received additional training on the detection and apprehension of DUI drivers. The Traffic Enforcement Section also provides additional support to other Sheriff’s Office Divisions and local law enforcement agencies during major events and calls for service.
Saturation Patrols / Wolf Packs
By using a data driven approach specific areas that have been identified as high crash locations are selected for saturation patrols which are also known as Wolf packs. The STEP Unit aggressively patrol these areas to locate and arrest impaired drivers. Wolf Pack operations may be conducted at any time or place with or without prior warning.
Sobriety checkpoints are an effective law enforcement tool involving the stopping of a specific sequence of vehicles, at a predetermined fixed location to detect impaired drivers. These operations not only serve as a specific deterrent by arresting impaired drivers who pass through the checkpoints, but more importantly, as a general deterrent to persons who have knowledge of the operation. Local law enforcement agencies and the Florida Highway Patrol participate in regular DUI Checkpoints.
If you drive impaired either by alcohol or drugs you dramatically increase your chance of being in a crash. In addition, if you are pulled over and the officer asks you to take a blood, urine or breath test you are required to comply. Florida has the “Implied Consent Law”. When you sign your driver’s license you have agreed to take these tests upon request. Refusal to take any of the tests may result in an immediate suspension for one year. A second refusal may result in an 18 month suspension.
Florida law mandates that any driver convicted of a second DUI have an Ignition Interlock device installed in their vehicle. A judge may order an Interlock installed on first convictions depending on circumstances. No one can drink alcohol and still drive safely. Drinking and driving causes accidents and deaths every day and therefore the penalties in Florida are very tough. If you drink and drive the result may be jail time, loss of your Florida driver’s license, heavy fines, and much higher auto insurance rates. And a conviction will stay on your Florida driving record for 75 years.
Zero Tolerance for Drivers under 21
Florida has a Zero Tolerance law for drivers under 21. This means that any driver under 21 that is stopped by law enforcement and has a blood alcohol level of .02 or higher will automatically have their Florida driver’s license suspended for 6 months. The .02 limit really means that you cannot have a single drink and drive. And that’s the idea. For drivers over 21 the legal limit in Florida is .08. Regardless of your age be aware that impaired driving is considered a serious offense. The average cost including legal defense fees, fines, and insurance increases is $8000 or more.
Florida Penalties for Impaired Driving
Fine Schedule s. 316.193(2)(a)-(b), F.S.
First Conviction: Not less than $500, or more than $1,000. With Blood/Breath Alcohol Level (BAL) of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $1,000, or more than $2,000.
Second Conviction: Not less than $1,000, or more than $2,000. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $2,000, or more than $4,000.
Third Conviction More than 10 years fromsecond: Not less than $2,000, or more than $5,000. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $4,000.
Fourth or Subsequent Conviction: Not less than $2,000.
Community Service – s. 316.193 (6)(a), F.S.
First Conviction: Mandatory 50 hours of community service or additional fine of $10 for each hour of community service required.
Probation – s. 316.193 (5)(6), F.S.
First conviction, total period of probation and incarceration may not exceed 1 year
Imprisonment- s. 316.193 (2)(a) 2, 4(b), (6)(j),
At court’s discretion, sentencing terms may be served in a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program, credited toward term of imprisonment.
First Conviction: Not more than 6 months. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not more than 9 months.
Second Conviction: Not more than 9 months. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not more than 12 months. If second conviction within 5 years, mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive.
Third Conviction: If third conviction within 10 years, mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive. If third conviction more than 10 years, imprisonment for not more than 12 months.
Fourth or Subsequent Conviction: Not more than 5 years or as provided in s.775.084, Florida Statutes, as habitual/violent offender.
Injuries and deaths resulting from people operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs are one of the most preventable tragedies in our society today.
Although impaired driving is a societal problem, law enforcement agencies are often the last line of defense when it comes to preventing the worst from happening. We, however, cannot do it alone. It is not possible to catch every driver under the influence who may be on the road at any given moment. The Florida Legislature has toughened DUI laws over the years, which has helped to reduce the number of first-time and repeat offenders. Cultural awareness of the problem has also helped. Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have helped to spread the word about lives ended too soon due to someone’s decision to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or drugs. The Pasco Sheriff’s Office regularly works with students in schools and with other community organizations to raise awareness to the consequences of impaired driving.
Enhanced Enforcement Locations Calendar
The Enhancement Section will be paying special attention to traffic violations in these areas based upon citizen complaints, traffic crash statistics, and speed studies.*