TAMPA, Fla. - Tampa Police will be out in full force this Holiday Season, patrolling for DUI drivers. It's all because of a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation.
Tampa ranks number two statewide for alcohol related crashes, averaging 250 each year. Also, it's number three for traffic fatalities, with an average of 10-12.
To help increase patrols around the Holidays, FDOT awarded Tampa Police a grant of $127,166. It'll put about 9-10 DUI officers on the streets every night, 3-4 more than usual. Police will be targeting specific locations, such as Ybor City and Downtown Tampa. The ramped-up enforcement will continue into 2013.
"We're going to be out there in force this weekend and throughout the New Year and throughout the year. We're looking at every weekend - Thursday, Friday, Saturdays - having extras patrols out there," said Sgt. Ray Fernandez.
Darlene Carothers knows just how much pain a drunk driver can cause. Back in 1998, her 16-year-old son, Mike, was hit and killed by a drunk driver on Christmas Eve. Carothers still can't bring herself to put up a Christmas tree.
"A part of me died when he died that day and I just, I go through the motions of life, but I'm not really here," said Carothers.
The mother is hoping drivers think twice before getting behind the wheel.
"If you're going to a Christmas party, don't drink. It's not worth ruining your life or someone else's life," said Carothers.
The grant runs through October of next year. Tampa Police will have to re-apply for it again at that time