Law enforcement stepping up DUI patrols ahead of football games, holiday season

Tampa Bay to see tens of thousands of visitors
Posted at 6:07 PM, Dec 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-27 18:07:46-05

Thousands of visitors will stream into local bars and tailgate zones over the next couple of weeks ahead of the Outback Bowl and the much-anticipated College Football Playoff National Championship game. 

Local law enforcement agencies are now reaching out to drivers to make sure they get home safely.  

“You got to take care of your family," said Mississippi State fan Michael Moore. "We either have an Uber that’s planned out or we got designated drivers."

Moore and hundreds of others were the first group of visitors to hit Tampa Bay, as Mississippi State played Miami University of Ohio in the St. Petersburg Bowl Monday.

“Sunny, nice 82 degree day for a bowl game," said Adam Glick, a Miami University fan. "It’s a great atmosphere.”

A tailgate atmosphere that promises a bevy of food and booze.  

The holiday season is one of the most dangerous time periods on the road.  

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there were 973 drunk driving deaths nationwide between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve last year. That's up from 957 in 2014.

During the New Year’s holiday period (6 p.m. December 31, 2014 – 5:59 a.m. January 5, 2015) the nation lost 31 lives per day in drunk driving crashes - a total of 139 deaths over 4.5 days.

For law enforcement, the concern is even greater this year with New Year’s falling on a weekend.

The Pinellas County Sheriff issued a warning on its Facebook page over the weekend, urging people to leave the keys behind if celebrating.

Law enforcement agencies plan to be out in full force in the coming weeks, stepping up DUI patrols.

“For me, as a dad, I feel very appreciative and safer because I know they’re out," said Moore.

If you see a potential drunk driver, dial *FHP (347)