Anthony Palese – FHP DUI Super Trooper

Why does Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Anthony Palese make so many arrests for DUI each month? And more importantly, why does the Florida Highway Patrol hand out these awards for “High DUI Trooper of the Month“?

Out of all the FHP troopers in the entire state of Florida, Trooper Anthony Palese with Troop C’s Tampa Division has made more arrests than any other trooper for 6 of the last 10 months. Either the other FHP troopers are a bunch of slackers or Anthony Palese has figured out a few short cuts.


Anthony W. Palese was also the Hurd-Smith Award Winner in 2002 for 236 DUI arrests in one year. The Hurd-Smith Award is handed out at the MADD Law Enforcement Recognition ceremony each year.


Past winners include Trooper Ronald Evans Jr. who received the the Hurd-Smith award in 2011 after he made 238 DUI arrests in the Land O’Lakes area of Pasco County, Florida, in 2011.

Rewarding the trooper with the highest number of DUI arrests each month might explain another trooper’s recent arrest for official misconduct when he allegedly lied in his report and under oath when testifying about a DUI arrest. Read more about why Scott Kunstmann, Florida Highway Patrol DUI Trooper, is accused of lying in a police report and was arrested recently for official misconduct.

It almost seems unfair. Give the trooper a nice award for making the highest number of DUI arrests. If he gets caught on video taking the shortcuts necessary to make the highest number of DUI arrests then charged him with official misconduct and perjury. That is what happens when the number of DUI arrests become more important than good police work. After all, FHP needs to keep those numbers up.

Leslie Sammis is criminal defense attorney in Tampa, FL, who represents men and women arrested for DUI by the Florida Highway Patrol throughout Hillsborough County and the surrounding areas.


  1. Jack
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 21:17 | Permalink | Reply

    They call him to the stop so he can run up his total. Its all a game and the deck is stacked. These guys will get caught at there own game in the future.

  2. Posted January 10, 2013 at 21:40 | Permalink | Reply

    So the fellow officers in that part of Troop C are all working together to help Cpl. Anthony Palese win the award each month? The troopers in the other parts of the state just don’t care as much about seeing one of their own win the award? I don’t see why the other troopers would want to stack the deck. I’m sure there is some explanation, I just don’t get it.

  3. Posted January 13, 2013 at 09:05 | Permalink | Reply

    I always thought it would be easy to make DUI arrests. All you have to do is follow cars leaving a bar late at night. Wait for pc to stop and Whalaa!

    However, Orlando has had it’s share of lying cops, not from FHP but from Orlando PD. Falsifying an arrest “Affidavit” ought to be more than enough grounds to fire and pull certification on that person. We citizens depend on the police to be truthful. Yet all instances out of OPD have lead only to reassignment.

    Other municipalities have been better at policing themselves here. I wonder if it has anything to do with the Police Unions (FOP,PBL,etc) which are criminal by their mere existence.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 08:13 | Permalink | Reply

    So the Defense wants to make a”story” about it. If his child was plowed by a drunk driver, he would be calling Trooper Palese to the scene personally to ensure a DUI investigation is handled.He should be considered a hero, as drunk driver’s kill people worse than guns and drugs!

  5. Dan
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 09:10 | Permalink | Reply

    Wow you guys are bitching and moaning because this trooper is getting drunk drivers off the street? You are a DUI attorney, you fight in court to defend somebody that has already broken the law. Good job on that, these losers deserve to sit in jail and get their DL revoked.

    • Posted January 15, 2013 at 08:00 | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks. You forgot the word “allegedly.” So what are all the other troopers doing? Just relaxing in their vehicles while the drunk drivers go by? Why does this one trooper have more arrests than every other trooper in the state almost every month this year?

  6. Jodie
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 15:12 | Permalink | Reply

    How about focusing on the number of irresponsible drunks removed from our road or the number if lives Trp. Palese may have saved due to these dispecable drunks. Just because their was one bad apple does not discount the hard work and dedication of other law enforcement officers who have committed to removing drunks from our roads. Should we discount your work as a reporter because of the the other reports who had written stories without the facts. Why don’t you look into the number of cases in which this trooper was the arresting pfficer and the drunk was found guilty?

  7. Concerned
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 07:18 | Permalink | Reply

    The Highway Patrol gives a paper certificate for high DUI of the Month and a Plaque for the Hurd/Smith Award. These are hardly reasons for someone to stretch the law or the truth to achieve. Some Troopers are just more dedicated to getting these offenders off of the roadway and show a passion for it. Admittedly there have been some (very few from FHP) that have short cut the system. These offenders did this type of thing from the start of their careers undoubtedly and surely did not do it to win a paper award. You have good and bad in all professions and sooner or later they get weeded out. I personally feel it is unjust to water down the accomplishments of a hard working officer without justification. Lets just give him credit for getting these people off the road so they do not kill someones, mother, father, daughter, son or another family member.

    • Posted April 17, 2013 at 21:22 | Permalink | Reply

      Doesn’t the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper also gets his picture and name on the FHP website? Are the awards considered when it is time for a raise or promotion?

  8. Posted February 19, 2013 at 00:03 | Permalink | Reply

    I see many people are concerned about drunk drivers and I agree that drunk driving is a danger to everyone including the person driving drunk. However, because someone has been stopped and accused of drunk driving, that in itself does not mean they are guilty. We all need to stop over reacting and realize that being accused invokes OUR RIGHT to DUE PROCESS. If the government, with all its power and “influence” (as well documented above), is going to threaten to take a person’s liberty from them – that person accused has a RIGHT to defend themselves and until proven in a court of law in innocent.

    Think hard on those words when the day comes, God forbid, that you are the one accused.

  9. Jorge
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 11:27 | Permalink | Reply

    I love how these law firms make all these statements about rogue cops, and how they will do anything for an arrest. However, how many DUI cases do you take each year? How many of Trooper Palease? If it wasn’t for these officers making arrests, these attorneys wouldn’t have clients, and not make any money. I’d be interested to see how many cases Sammis has taken where Palease was the arresting officer. And of those, how many Sammis has won for his clients

  10. Posted May 22, 2013 at 21:44 | Permalink | Reply

    Update: Trooper Anthony Palese was also awarded the Florida Highway Patrol’s 2013 Hurd-Smith Award. He was honored at a recent annual MADD ceremony. The criteria for the award also involves the highest number of DUI arrests in a single year. Palese arrested 193 people for DUI in 2013.

    Although FHP reports the number of DUi arrests, I can’t find anything about how many of these 193 people were actually convicted of DUI or even a lesser charge of reckless driving. How many of these people blew over the legal limit?

    Trooper Palese was honored during a Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) Law Enforcement Recognition ceremony in Tampa on Friday, May 3, 2013.

    Other troopers with Florida’s Highway Patrol who were given a special award include:
    • Trooper Jose Ramirez from the Orlando District;
    • Trooper Joshua Evans from the Orlando District;
    • Trooper Gabriel Keyes from the Orlando District;
    • Trooper Deborah Hawkins from the Orlando District;
    • Trooper Charles Alexander from the Pensacola District;
    • Trooper Greg Healy from the Jacksonville District;
    • Trooper Niles Daughtry from the Pensacola District;
    • Trooper William Breen, from the Ft. Myers District;
    • Trooper Melvin Arthur from the Venice District; and
    • Trooper Mark Castleberry from the Orlando District.

  11. Posted June 21, 2013 at 03:05 | Permalink | Reply

    You can pull his arrest breath test result history by going to Search his last name by using the search feature on your internet browser (this is one of the only time I use internet explorer because F4 brings up the search icon). It looks like of 13 arrests in April of 2013 he had 2 .00 arrests, 1 around .05, another right at .08, around three refusals and the other 7 were over .08. I would like to see the probable cause affidavit on the .00 arrests. Some of the more aggressive DUI officers have a tendency to smell alcohol when the intoxilyzer doesn’t. The amazing ability to detect alcohol when the breath test machine doesn’t is usually part of the reason they have such high arrest numbers.

    • Posted June 22, 2013 at 00:55 | Permalink | Reply

      If the officer says he smells alcohol and the intoxilyzer doesn’t, I’d like to see that CRA. Surely no officer is dumb enough to submit that to his supervisor. If the officer smells alcohol when the intoxilyzer doesn’t, then I would suspect the officer might shred the Criminal Report Affidavit and police report, and starts over – this time with vague allegations hinting at drug impairment like eye lid tremors, pale face, and constricted pupils.

      Florida law requires “reasonable cause” of impairment due to an alcoholic beverage before he can even ask for a breath test, so no one should ever blow a .000. But it still happens. Either the officer just screws up or maybe the Intoxilyzer 8000 is just malfunctioning with a .000 blow when it shouldn’t. Either way, it seems to be a problem to have a .000 blow.

      In Hillsborough County, the officer might not even request a urine test after a .000 or low blow. If he does and it comes back negative for everything, then he can blame the urine test (not that anyone is going to ask). He can argue the person took some chemical or controlled substance that wasn’t detected in the urine test (which might be true in some cases – but it would be pretty rare).

      But in Florida, the officer should never have a breath test result with .000. You make a good point that if you have enough time you can look at all of the breath tests for that particular officer. The statewide statistics compiled by FDLE show that roughly 20% of the breath tests are below at .08. If one particular officer has a much higher number, he might have a harder time explaining it away. But you would have to look at more than just one month. So we can’t complain too much since all the data is there ready to be analyzed.

  12. Concerned citizen
    Posted December 6, 2013 at 07:59 | Permalink | Reply

    To answer the BAC .000% inquiry. A DUI involving alcohol is almost a thing of the past with all the pill mills. Everyone seems lathergic, and zombie-like behind the steering wheel intoxicated on Roxy, Oxy, Xanax, etc.. “sleeping at the green light,” etc..

    • Posted December 6, 2013 at 12:00 | Permalink | Reply

      If the officer has probable cause that the person is under the influence of drugs instead of alcohol then the officer can ask the person to submit to a urine test. If the person refuses, the person can be charged with refusal to submit to the urine test and their driver’s license can be suspended for one year for a first refusal or 18 months for a second refusal.

      The officer should never ask for a breath test if he suspects only drugs. In those cases in which the person blows a .000 the officer screwed up and the rest of the evidence might be suppressed as a result. It shows the officer thought he had probable cause of alcohol impairment but was really really wrong.

      So your theory doesn’t explain how officers are arresting people for intoxication from alcohol with breath alcohol readings under .08. If the officer suspects alcohol and drugs then he can still ask for urine after the breath test and Roxy, Oxy and Xanax definately show up on a urine test.

      If the cop is routinely arresting people who blow under .08 and have clean urine then the officer should be moved out of the DUI enforcement unit and given a desk job. Those officers are particularly dangerous because they also encourage people to refuse chemical testing – the lazy cops with bad habits tend to have more refusal cases.

  13. Angry young and poor
    Posted December 26, 2013 at 16:07 | Permalink | Reply

    I had one of these FHP officers (won’t bother saying who) arrest me one time when I was sober as a judge.

    They asked me to perform sobriety tests, to which I complied. However, after complying with the breathalyzer and performing several simple actions to prove my sobriety – such as walking a straight line, touching my nose, etc. – I was STILL ARRESTED.

    I was asked to perform a urine test. I was not given an option at this point. Even worse, the officer put on the affidavit blatant lies such as “his eyes were bouncing” (how is that possible?) and “there was white powder on the side of his mouth” (I know of drugs that are white powder, but who would eat them?) Even worse, the drug test came out positive for THC. Was this a false positive? I’ll never know. They’ll never know either, unless I was purposely set up. Either way, I was given no liberty and now had to spend a day in jail and had a pending DUI charge which made my life a living nightmare.

    What ensued was a 2-month long legal battle, to which eventually resulted in FHP dropping the charges as soon as they saw the video of me at the DUI center, providing a urine test and behaving completely sober as the officers were asking me what to do.

    I had wasted all this time for nothing. From what I heard, the arresting FHP officer was flustered by the FHP’s decision, but was not ever charged with false arrest. I was 19 at that time, and was poor as all heck. Still am. These FHP officers are no joke, especially if you fit the profile of “young and usable”; let’s not forget that they’re competing for these awards and they can [apparently] take advantage of whomever they want with no consequence whatsoever.

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