Police departments in Pinellas County, FL have recently conducted a large-scale wolfpack operation during the 2021 Independence Day weekend — a move that caught the attention of the media as well as local drivers. But what exactly are wolfpack operations and what happens if you end up getting pulled over and charged with a DUI during one of these? Our Clearwater DUI attorneys explain how wolfpack operations work and what your options are for fighting a DUI charge.
How Do Wolfpack Operations Work in Florida?
Wolfpack operations are conducted by several Florida police departments many times a year. The most recent one was conducted in July 2021 by the Pinellas County Sheriff and included the Clearwater Police Department, the Florida Highway Patrol, and nine other police departments. According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, this type of operation is part of an “ongoing commitment to reduce deaths, injuries and property damage associated with traffic crashes related to impaired driving”. The goal of wolfpack operations 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.”
During a wolfpack operation, deputies and local law enforcement join forces and intensely monitor traffic and “hunt” in packs for impaired drivers on Florida roadways. This usually results in several checkpoints where a large number of drivers are pulled over in designated areas of the county. This type of operation is conducted several times a year and often takes place during major holidays in which drivers may be more tempted to celebrate a bit too much before getting behind the wheel of their vehicle.
How Many People Are Charged or Receive Citations During a Wolfpack Operation in Florida?
It is not unusual for the police to make over 20 DUI arrests during a wolfpack operation. The main goal of law enforcement is to stop drivers who may have been drinking over the legal limit of 0.08 BAC or who may be under the influence of drugs.
In addition, several dozen other traffic violations and tickets are issued for offenses such as driving without insurance, driving with an expired license, or being in possession of an open container. A large number of speeding tickets – an average of 50 or more – also come as a result of intense patrolling.
What Should I Do If I Was Charged With a DUI During a Wolfpack Operation?
If you have been charged with a DUI during a wolfpack operation, contact an attorney as soon as possible, as you may be facing several complications. Florida law treats DUI charges very seriously, and penalties may vary from a temporary license suspension for first-time DUI offenders to jail time and license revocation for more serious cases or repeat offenders.
How Can an Attorney Help Me Fight a DUI Charge in Florida?
There are many strategies a DUI attorney can use to de-escalate your charges or try to get them dropped altogether. A common defense strategy is to question whether the police officer that conducted the traffic stop had enough probable cause to do so. If an attorney can prove that the officer did not have enough probable cause to make the stop, the stop may be considered illegal and any evidence apprehended during that stop may become inadmissible in court, resulting in your charges being dropped.
Every case is different and not every DUI charge can be dismissed, but an attorney can help convince the court to give more lenient penalties or alternative sentencing in some cases. At Carson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, we work with countless drivers and help them fight back DUI charges. Contact our Clearwater office and schedule a no-cost case review to see how we can help you.