NEW PORT RICHEY — The holding cells inside the mobile drunk tank have drains.
"It will help a lot," said Sgt. Art Rowand, supervisor of the traffic enforcement unit at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. "It's easier to clean."
Everything inside the 46-foot trailer — which will be used by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office at DUI checkpoints — is easily wiped down: vinyl seats, smooth floors, plastic chairs. Even the fancy Intoxilyzer 8000 machine, which can pinpoint blood alcohol level, has a hard plastic covering that could be pulled over the machine to protect it, if need be.
When you have a small space with a lot of people who have been swilling booze and drugs, there is a high probability that some of it will come back out of them.
"Throwing up isn't usually the problem," said Rowand, as he gave a tour Wednesday of the refurbished trailer. "It's urine."
The trailer isn't new. Sheriff Bob White, who is in his third term, said it was here when he first took office. Rowand thought the agency bought it in the early 1990s. Until a few months ago, it was being used as a crime prevention trailer and as a place to haul motorcycles and such.
"It was growing mold," White said.
The trailer was refurbished using a $16,000 state grant obtained by a new grass roots organization called the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention and a $14,000 federal grant obtained by the Sheriff's Office.
Previously at DUI checkpoints, deputies had to drive each suspect to the Land O'Lakes jail for processing — and then drive all the way back out to the checkpoint, then back again and so on.
"Instead of six deputies going back and forth," Rowand said, "now it will be one deputy, going one time."
There are two holding cells inside the trailer, as well as all the equipment needed to process suspects on the spot: a dark room to check pupils; the Breathalyzer; several computers to verify a person's identity, outstanding warrants and criminal history; and a DVD player so deputies can review video of arrests.
During DUI sweeps, a paddy wagon will be stationed alongside the new trailer — so suspects can be processed and then held inside the van until there are enough people for a trip to the jail. One deputy can transport about six suspects.
The DUI enforcement mobile operations center will be christened at its first checkpoint on Saturday — Valentine's Day.
"So get your significant other flowers," White said, "and not a bottle of Jim Beam."
Erin Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6229.