Thomas and Paulk

Operation 3D - No Refusal DUI Checkpoint Program

Police officers and deputies are getting ready for what they are calling Operation 3D. Anyone suspected of a DUI will be asked to take a breathalyzer test, but now there’s talk of a “no refusal” system in the Bay area. Ellen McNamara has the story from Hillsborough County.

"No night of the year is a good night to drink and drive."

And because people chose to drink and drive between October 1 and November 15, 15 people died. That’s according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Hillsborough County. Tampa police and Hillsborough County deputies see the problem and are always trying to keep drunks off the roads. Like with this DUI checkpoint setup early this morning in Brandon. "We’re going to be checking to see if there are any signs of impairment."

Deputies say one arrest happened at the checkpoint where drivers are asked to show their license and registration. If a deputy suspects a driver is drunk, then they’ll ask the driver to take a breath test.

“If you're being asked to take a breath test, it’s already been decided that you’re going to be arrested for DUI. However, if you do refuse a breath test, currently, your license is immediately suspended for a year." Defense Attorney Jeff Paulk believes that if you refuse, there are already enough consequences, but MADD and some lawmakers say a no refusal strategy that already exists in some parts of Florida and Texas should be added. The strategy would mean that if a driver refuses to blow, a judge would be at the DUI checkpoint and a blood sample could be taken immediately.

MADD says the strategy will save lives, but Paulk says its unnecessary and worries that judges at the scene would be biased in the courtroom. “They’re not supposed to be part of law enforcement. They’re supposed to be a neutral arbitrator of the law.” Even though the “no refusal” strategy doesn’t exist in the Tampa Bay area, because so many deaths happen each year, this debate isn’t going to go anywhere. As far as the DUI arrests go, so far today, 10 people have already been arrested.