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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

UPD holds drunk driving saturation detail in midtown

University Police Department Officer Gene Rodgers saw a man in a lifted black Chevrolet truck swerve, and Rodgers flipped on his lights to reign in the driver.

The driver told Rodgers he hadn't been drinking, and he successfully followed a pen with his eyes. The man said he'd swerved because he'd been texting.

The pullover was a part of a saturation detail in which 11 officers, two on bicycles, three on motorcycles and the rest in marked and unmarked cars, patrolled University Avenue primarily scouting for drunken drivers. The night resulted in one DUI arrest.

Additionally, UPD made five other kinds of arrests, gave 48 traffic tickets and 58 warnings, UPD Lt. Stacey Ettel said.

"The goal of the detail isn't to give out tickets or make arrests," he said. "It is to saturate the area so that drivers see the presence of law enforcement and make better decisions."

Rodgers said he is the "go-to guy" for DUIs.

On average, UPD makes two DUI arrests per night, he said.

UPD usually patrols the streets around UF like Archer, Southwest 13th Street and West University Avenue.

"We like to stop them before they get on campus," Rodgers said.

To spot a DUI, Rodgers said he looks for any kind of traffic violation like going through red lights, weaving or having headlights off.

Rodgers said that a DUI could potentially ruin anyone's life short term.

Not only does it cost about $10,000 for a lawyer, Rodgers said, but the judge can also implement a curfew.

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Other consequences may include losing jobs, driver's licenses.

He said he doesn't feel bad about doing his job, but he does empathize with people who get in trouble.

One good thing about being a police officer, Rodgers said, is that he can make his own decisions about when to be hard on someone and when to let someone go.

"There's too many bad people out there to get the good people," he said.

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