Pinellas County DUI “Wolf Pack Patrols”

Pinellas County DUI Checkpoint Roadblock
Sergeant Howard Skaggs of the Patrol Operations Bureau for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office just issued a press release on recent “Wolf Pack patrols” in Pinellas County. The most recent roving patrol occurred on December 21, 2012 at 9:00 p.m. through December 22, 2012 at 5:00 a.m.

What is a Wolf Pack Patrol?

The “Wolf Pack patrol” is when officers with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office saturate a particular area with the intention of stopping as many vehicles as possible. The usual official reason for the stop is some minor traffic or equipment violation. Officers in Pinellas County have great discretion in selecting the neighborhoods to target and in selecting the individuals to be stopped during the roving patrols.

What was the result of the most recent “Wolf Pack patrol”?

The most recent “Wolf Pack patrol” netted nine (9) DUI arrests, eight (8) arrests were for misdemeanor DUI crimes and one (1) arrest was for a felony version of DUI. The DUI enforcement officers also made three arrests for driving while license suspended or revoked with knowledge (DWLSR), one arrest for resisting an officer without violence. A total of 17 citations were issued and 14 warnings for various traffic infractions.

The stated purpose of the Wolf Pack operations is to reduce DUI related injuries in Pinellas County and educate the public about the dangers of drinking and driving.

What is the difference between DUI Checkpoints and Wolf Pack Operations?

The Wolf Pack patrols in Pinellas County are held once a month. Those patrols are completely separate from the DUI roadblocks that take place once a month in Pinellas County, FL. A roadblock (often called a “checkpoint” by law enforcement) is when officers set up signs and cones on a particular road for the purpose of stopping vehicles without any cause for the stop.

In order to comply with the courts’ interpretation of the Fourth Amendment, officers must follow an operation plan and select vehicles for further detention in some random and pre-determined way such as stopping every third vehicle. Those vehicles that are selected are then forced off the roadway into a staging area where officers question the occupants of the vehicles.

Many law enforcement agencies in Florida favor Wolf Pack-type patrols because they avoid much of the constitutional scrutiny that accompanies roadblock or checkpoint stops. Also, the roving patrols generally result in more people being arrested for DUI. Roadblocks or checkpoints generally result in far fewer DUI arrests.

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