Ocoee police crack down on drunken drivers for holiday weekend

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OCOEE, Fla. - Ocoee police are cracking down on drunken drivers throughout the holiday weekend.

They created a DUI checkpoint on West Colonial Drive just outside the West Oaks Mall.

Officers were very careful to follow strict rules to make any arrests stick after recent court rulings caused some DUI cases to be thrown out in central Florida.

“We’ll get them out of the car and the officer will then take their car and park it on the side of the road, and they’ll be escorted over here to do the field sobriety test,” said Lt. Brad Dreasher with the Ocoee Police Department.

But officers have strict guidelines they have to follow in order to make any DUI arrest legal, including reading a specific script.

“If they go off script it could actually cause a problem for all the cases,” Dreasher said.

The Ocala Police Department ran into a problem earlier this year when a judge tossed out a DUI case, and possibly many more to come, because the officers didn’t have required blue flashing lights.

Drivers must also be given notice a minimum of a half mile before the checkpoint so they have the option to turn around.

But if a driver makes that choice, they aren’t necessarily in the clear.

“I believe we have 50 officers out,” said Officer Brian Harris.

Eleven other agencies have set up DUI checkpoints ahead of the long weekend.

“This is the last weekend of the month for summer, school is here, and a lot of people decide they’re going to party for the weekend,” Dreasher said.

Officers said the checkpoints are also a way they get guns off the street and catch people who have warrants.