Posted on Apr 19, 2012
Mothers Against Drunk Driving Georgia recently recognized the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department as an Agency DUI Hero for the fourth year in a row. The sheriff’s office made 396 DUI arrests in 2011, the most in the state for a Category 4 (51 to 100 officers) agency.
While almost 400 DUI arrests seems like a high number, sheriff’s Sgt. David Martin said the number was a decrease from 581 in 2010. “We’re seeing less and less DUIs,” said Martin. “People are getting the message and we have sobriety checkpoints every weekend.”
Martin heads the Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic, or H.E.A.T., Unit, which consists of him and four other officers. Martin’s unit was responsible for 295 of the total 396 DUI arrests made in 2011.
Since its formation in 2006, the unit has worked to reduce the number of traffic fatalities by half. The year 2006 saw 26 fatalities, while 2011 saw 13.
So far, there have been five fatalities in 2012 and three of those fatalities were due to speed and occurred on Interstate 20, according to Martin.
Only one of those fatalities was due to driving under the influence, but Martin said that statistics show that two out of 10 drivers will have alcohol in their system before midnight on any given Friday night. After midnight, that number increases to four out of 10 drivers.
Martin said his unit has four officers with four or more DUI arrests this year.
“We always concentrate on DUI arrests. They’re the most preventable deaths,” Martin said.
This Tuesday, Martin and his team participated in Chapel Hill High School’s Ghost Out program.
One teen from each class was selected to represent a teen fatality. That student will have their face painted and be forced to remain silent all day. The officers then held a mock trial and funeral.
Martin said while he is proud of his unit, the award is a community effort.
“It’s a community award; a sheriff’s office award. We’ve reduced DUI arrests — it means people are getting the message,” he said.
Shane Smith
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