UCF Police Officer Christopher Holt remembers it was raining the night his sister crashed her car. She had been drinking. The six-inch hole she knocked in her head put her in a coma for over a month. She will be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
Last year Holt made more DUI arrests than any other officer in the UCF Police Department. He said his goal is prevention.
“Especially in this area, drinking and driving is a big deal,” Holt said. “There’s a lot of it that goes on out here.”
During Holt’s night shift, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., a single DUI arrest takes him about three hours to complete. In that time Holt pulls over a driver he suspects is drunk, conducts a field sobriety test, arrests the driver, takes them to the Orange County Jail’s DUI Testing Center, determines they are over the legal blood alcohol limit, writes a report and takes them to jail.
Holt must also spend time appearing in court testifying in the cases.
“It’s very time intensive,” Holt said. “A lot of cops would rather tell you to get somebody to come get you.”
Taking DUI perpetrators into custody creates further difficulties for Holt by making him unavailable to respond to other crimes. Holt said on average he makes one DUI arrest or .02 suspension per shift. A .02 suspension can happen when underage drinkers’ licenses are suspended for having a blood alcohol content higher than .02 and lower than .08.
It’s extra effort, but Holt believes arresting drivers for DUI is the most effective way of teaching them not to drive drunk in the future.
“One of my friends had gotten pulled over three times while he’d been drinking,” Holt said. “Every time an officer told him to get someone to come get him. The fourth time, when he actually got arrested for it, he hit multiple cars on I-4.”
Holt said his friend quit drinking entirely after his arrest.
He acknowledges some drunk drivers will never learn. Some perpetrators he arrests are on their second or third DUI. Holt still prefers his policing style to letting drivers off with a warning.
“This guy is one of the most active members of the force,” UCF Police Officer Eliseo Cromartie said concerning Holt.
Holt recalls Orange County Police officers once pulled over a man who was driving under the influence with only three wheels on his car. The officers told the man to call someone to pick him up. When the officers drove off, the DUI driver drove off with sparks flying. Holt arrested him.
Holt’s mother raised him and his sister by herself in Polk County. His neighbor was a police officer, but Holt said there was no defining moment in his life that steered him toward becoming a cop.
Few if any drivers will thank Holt for their DUI arrest, but someone is taking notice. The activist group Mothers Against Drunk Driving will present Holt with their Century Achievers Award in Tallahassee on March 29. The award goes to officers who make more than 100 individual .02 suspensions and DUI arrests in a year.
Holt said he prefers the nightshift because he gets to avoid daytime traffic jams. He said Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest for the UCF Police Department. These are the nights when UCF students go out to drink. They are the nights that UCF’s number one DUI arrester will be on patrol.
Source: OrlandoSentinel.com, Profile: UCF’s leading man in DUI arrests, Orlando Sentinel, March 25, 2010