Tampa Police DUI Unit Under Investigation for Overzealous Arrests

If you were arrested by the Tampa Police Department (TPD) on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) before August 1, 2013, it is imperative that you contact a Tampa Bay DUI defense attorney immediately.

Allegations have surfaced that TPD head DUI enforcement officer Sgt. Ray Fernandez may have acted improperly during DUI arrests. The claims of possible misconduct have prompted the disbanding of the unit, Fernandez’s reassignment to desk duty and ongoing investigations by both the FBI and the Florida Bar.

TPD Chief Jane Castor has appointed a six person panel to reassess all open DUI cases involving Sgt. Fernandez and Officer Tim McGinnis. The panel will also choose around 50 past cases at random to determine if there was officer misconduct in those arrests.

Additional Issues with Tampa’s DUI Enforcement

Unfortunately, the panel will not address other long-standing issues with the DUI unit, including the lack of dashboard cameras in all patrol vehicles, DUI arrest quotas, and the overzealous “arrest first and let the courts sort it out” policy of DUI enforcement officers.

Tampa criminal defense attorneys are very aware of the problems existing within the DUI unit, having represented clients who were arrested on the slightest suspicion of driving while intoxicated, even when the drivers in question were calm, cooperative and passed the field sobriety tests with flying colors. One case under investigation involves the arrest of Al Fox, a Cuban trade advocate who was later shown to have a blood alcohol level of 0.000 percent.

Under the rules of evidence, prosecutors must inform all criminal defense attorneys representing clients in pending cases involving Sgt. Fernandez of his possible involvement in false arrests. Your attorney can then decide whether the allegations against the DUI unit have bearing on the outcome of your case.

Driving Under the Legal Alcohol Limit

Remember, despite growing public awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, it is not illegal to drive after drinking. It is only a crime to drive while legally impaired. If you feel you were arrested without justifiable cause by the TPD DUI unit, contact a qualified DUI criminal defense attorney today.

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