POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Polk County deputies are tackling a notorious aggressive driving problem on Interstate 4 by hiding in plain sight.

Deputies are conducting traffic stops from unmarked vehicles as part of a new initiative that began in the fall.

Unmarked vehicle pulls car over on I-4

“The reason you were being stopped is for speeding,” Lt. Anthony Allaire said to a driver who was pulled over on I-4 Friday.

Lt. Allaire, with PCSO’s traffic unit, used a certified speedometer on his vehicle to clock him driving 90 miles per hour. The speed limit is 70 mph.

That driver was handed a ticket for $279.

Lt. Allaire is part of a team of deputies that find themselves patrolling I-4 every day.

As of this week, deputies had pulled over 2,644 people and written 1,882 tickets during this new intiative.

Law enforcement went ahead with the program after they noticed a drop in vehicles on I-4 due to the pandemic, but no decrease in crashes or speeding.

“As the pandemic was making its course, traffic was picking up and volume was picking up and there was more traffic and higher speeds and people getting more aggressive,” said Lt. Allaire.

Unmarked vehicles allow deputies to keep drivers on their toes.

“Whenever these vehicles pass us, then we can just fall in behind them, clock them with our vehicle and arrest them,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “When people on Interstate 4, with that kind of traffic volume, are driving 100 plus miles per hour, that’s reckless.”

According to the sheriff’s office, 116 people were ticketed for driving over 100 mph, including one driver who clocked in at 155 mph.

Three dozen people have been arrested.

“Do you have a drivers’ license? You don’t?” asked Lt. Allaire to a driver he witnessed swerving between lanes and driving 100 miles per hour.

That driver, Ramon Roque, had just been released from prison Thursday.

He’s listed as a habitual traffic offender and his license is revoked.

“Man, why are you out there driving with no license? You just got out of jail!” said Lt. Allaire.

The sheriff’s office partners with Florida Highway Patrol to patrol I-4.

FHP issued 10,996 citations in Polk County in 2020, the interstate being FHP’s main focus.

>> Follow Staci DaSilva on Facebook
>> Follow Staci DaSilva on Twitter