Law enforcement checkpoint catches impaired truckers along I-95 in Chatham Co.

Law enforcement checkpoint catches impaired truckers along I-95 in Chatham Co.

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - About 50 law enforcement officers from around Georgia are posted at a checkpoint to catch commercial vehicle drivers operating under the influence.

Georgia had the fifth-highest total of fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles last year, with the number of impaired drivers going up as well.

WTOC was at the checkpoint along Interstate 95 in Chatham County with a look at how the operation is faring so far.

The officers there Wednesday night were trained drug recognition experts, and they're looking for any tell-tale signs of impairment as drivers pull into this weigh station.

By funneling the big rigs into the weigh station, officers get a close look at each driver and pull them aside if there's any suspicion of impaired driving.

"Anything, any drug that's prescription that you've taken that you should not be behind the wheel. Of course marijuana, alcohol, we are looking for any drugs. Meth, any of that stuff we are looking for that," said Powell Harrelson, with the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

Deadly crashes along the busy interstates of coastal Georgia made the area a prime target for this kind of operation by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

"We started this effort up on I-85 in north Georgia last year. And then we decided to bring it here," said Harrelson.

While that effort saw only a fraction of the drivers checked put in cuffs for impaired driving, Harrelson says each arrest equals a potential life saved.

"We want to save that life. We want to save 20 lives. But if we can save that one life, by getting that one impaired driver, truck driver off the road, then it's worth it," said Harrelson. "We hope that there are zero truck drivers that come through here tonight that we have to arrest. They need to move our goods and products on the roadways, we just want them to do that in a safe manner. So we hope we arrest zero."

According to Ed Weaver, Governor's Office of Highway Safety, as of 5:45 a.m. Thursday morning, they've had three impaired drivers, and 35 trucks were taken out of service for driving over hours. He says numerous citations have also been given out for commercial motor-vehicle violations.

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