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UCF stepping up DUI patrols in time for Super Bowl weekend

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Ask just about any college student about alcohol use on campus -- and they’re likely to tell you it’s not uncommon.

Most would also have the good sense to tell you that drinking and driving don’t mix.

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But police at the University of Central Florida say they’ve seen a noticeable increase in cases involving impaired drivers on and around campus.

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And with the potential for many Super Bowl parties over the next few days, the department told WFTV it plans to step up DUI patrols throughout the weekend.

Officials aren’t timid about letting students know in advance that they’ll be out looking for impaired drivers.

They say their transparency is about saving lives and hope people will make the right decisions before it’s too late.

Data shows since 2018, DUI arrests on campus were dropping steadily year over year -- until last year.

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“At UCF, we experienced a 124% increase in our DUI numbers just this last year,” said UCFPD’s Sgt. Frank Imparato.

In 2018, 2019 and 2020, the number of arrests totaled 54, 49 and 39, respectively.

But in 2021 -- campus police said they arrested 76 impaired drivers.

Imparato told Eyewitness News that the increase in arrests wasn’t due to an increase of police on campus.

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He said it was because there were more impaired drivers.

“Medical marijuana and cannabis is more prevalent and more accepted in the community -- but it doesn’t change that you can’t drive after smoking it.”

“It’s still going to impair your ability to operate a vehicle safely,” said Imparato.

He also pointed to misconceptions about warnings that come with prescription drugs.

“People will take a prescription that says don’t operate heavy machinery. They’re thinking a forklift. They don’t realize a 10,000 pound car also constitutes heavy machinery.”

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Police say the bottom line is that they want people to understand the dangers of getting behind the wheel while impaired.

And they can’t get their message about campus DUI concerns out fast enough.

“We’re on track again to break our record from last year,” Imparato said.

UCF police plan to begin their DUI saturation patrol event Friday at 8 p.m.

And they’re fine with you knowing about it ahead of time.

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