Local, state law enforcement continue multi-day traffic enforcement plan in Savannah

Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 4:34 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Starting Friday night, state and local law enforcement will set up sobriety check points on Savannah area roads.

“It’s all about saving lives. Right now, Savannah’s had more fatalities with car crashes than homicides this year,” said Powell Harrelson the G.O.H.S. Law Enforcement Coordinator.

The four-day Thunder Task Force Operation is bringing sobriety checks to Savannah roadways at night.

It’s a coordinated effort from the Office of Highway Safety’s Aggressive Traffic team.

“If they suspect that you may be D.U.I., you’re gonna be handed off to Georgia State Patrol or Savannah Police Department for further screening. If there’s nothing wrong, you’re gonna be sent on your way.”

The operation began Wednesday with a focus on traffic and seatbelt violations.

Law enforcement says in the operation’s first two days...officers wrote nearly 400 traffic citations.

Savannah city officials say police requested the help of highway safety teams after federal crash data showed a 40% jump in Chatham County traffic fatalities from 29 in 2017 to 41% in 2021.

Preliminary reports show traffic fatalities increased even more last year with 42 deaths.

In a statement, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Allen Poole says in part the office is, “working with agencies around the state to protect the public by putting dangerous and reckless drivers on the shoulder of the road or in a jail cell.”

Now, law enforcement hopes that by putting 125 officers out on Savannah’s roads... drivers will stay alert.

“When you bring this many officers into town and saturate the area, their presence makes people think that they need to slow down, buckle up, not use a cell phone, or drink and drive.”

The Office of Highway Safety says the goal of this operation isn’t to arrest anyone for D.U.I. but officials say it’s what they’ll do if that’s what it takes to get people to stop drinking and driving.

Savannah drivers are being asked to make sure they have their license and insurance info with them in case they come across a sobriety checkpoint.

After the operation, the Office of Highway Safety says they’ll continue working with SPD for enhanced traffic patrols for the next three to four months.