Nighthawks swoop in on dangerous prey

Driver arrested for DUI
Driver arrested for DUI
Driver completes sobriety test, and was released
Driver completes sobriety test, and was released

By Christy Hutchings - bio | email

CHATHAM CO, GA (WTOC) – Georgia State Patrol's Nighthawk DUI Task Force took to the streets in Chatham County Friday night.

The Nighthawks just started this unit in Chatham and Bulloch counties less than a year ago.  It's made up of eight Troopers who focus mainly on catching drivers under the influence.  Since November of last year the Nighthawks have arrested more than 800 drunk drivers.

"You can see a difference, especially in the Statesboro area," said Corporal Robert Balkcom with the Nighthawks.  "You see a lot more designated drivers.  We can tell we're making some progress.  There's a long way to go, but we're trying to be as visible as we can be through road checks and traffic stops."

Friday night they focused on West Chatham County.  The Nighthawks, as well as Garden City Police set up a road block on Dean Forest Road.  Less than thirty minutes into it, they had one man in handcuffs.  Police say he was driving under the influence of drugs. Police also found crack cocaine in the man's truck.

"I hope we're making a difference I feel like we're making a difference," said Corporal Balkcom.

Balkcom says the Nighthawks aren't the only ones making a difference. He says Savannah Chatham Metro Police has an active DUI Task Force, as well as Garden City's traffic unit, and other municipalities. "If you look at what we've done and what they've done it's pretty impressive, but the problem of drinking and driving is still out there."

And as long as it is, the Nighthawks, and other law enforcement will be out in force.

"If we save one person I think we've done our job, but we try to save as many as we can," said Corporal Balkcom.

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