State and local law enforcement are tackling traffic violations this St. Patrick’s Day weekend in “Operation Thunder.”
The multi-agency task force combines the work of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety H.E.A.T. units, Port Wentworth Police Department, Pooler Police Department and the Georgia State Patrol are to keep impaired and distracted drivers off of the roads.
So far on Thursday, authorities have issued 70 citations and taken two impaired drivers into custody, according to Roger Hayes, Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Law Enforcement Services Director.
“We are excited about everyone coming to Savannah for St Patrick’s Day weekend. We want everyone to enjoy the festivities, but don’t press your luck,” warned Hayes.
The effort is an extension of Port Wentworth’s annual “Operation Lucky Charms.” It’s a 10-year-old program that focuses on crime during the holiday weekend.
But even after a decade, police say some still haven’t learned their lesson.
“We will see the same violators year after year with the same infraction,” said Major Lee Sherrod of the Port Wentworth Police Department. “They go back year after year to court to the point our judges recognize them from the year prior operation.”
Last year’s operation ended with 716 citations, 35 drug arrests and 36 DUI cases, turning a fun holiday into an expensive one for some.
“You could have attorney fees, you could have a night in jail,” said Sherrod, adding, “Historically, it’s been called a $10,000 night out.”
Authorities say their goal isn’t to rack up tickets — but to keep everyone safe.
“You don’t want to write one ticket if you can help it,” Sherrod said. “It’s about getting down to zero, but they won’t let us do that.”
Drivers can expect to see additional law enforcement on the road in Chatham County from Thursday to Saturday, keeping an eye out for people texting and driving or even driving under the influence.
“Please know that our message is clear. If you decide to drink and drive, you will go to jail,” Hayes said, reminding drivers to “stay sober, safe and alert.”
For those who may be visiting from out of town, authorities want to remind you about Georgia’s Hands-Free Law. This requires drivers to put the phone down and use hands-free technology to use cell phones or GPS.
Authorities are also urging drivers to have a plan to get home safely on St. Patrick’s Day. From rideshare services to calling a friend, there is no excuse to drive impaired:
- Take Uber – https://get.uber.com/
- Ride Lyft – https://www.lyft.com/signup
- Call/hail a taxi
- Catch a CAT – http://www.catchacat.org/
AAA’s Tow-2-Go service will also be available from March 15 through 6:00 a.m. on March 18. Just call (855) 286-9246 for a free ride/tow up to 10 miles.
For more information on shuttle services and parking on St. Patrick’s Day, visit here.