Crackdown nets 56 drunken driving arrests

WARNER ROBINS — Operation Rolling Thunder, a combined crackdown by numerous law enforcement agencies on drunken drivers, speeders and other traffic violators in Houston County, netted 56 arrests for driving under the influence during the weekend.

“I was very, very pleased with the success of it,” said Centerville police Capt. Roger Hayes, who serves as law enforcement coordinator for the Middle Georgia Traffic Enforcement Network. “The numbers were astounding.”

The concentrated enforcement action also resulted in 33 driving on a suspended license charges, 12 citations for driving uninsured and 33 speeding tickets, according to a Governor’s Office of Highway Safety news release.

There were also 20 drug-related arrests, 11 felony arrests and five people picked up on outstanding warrants, according to the release. The most serious felony arrest was drug-related, Hayes said.

In addition, there were 43 citations for improper child-safety seats and 50 tickets issued for seat belt violations, the release said. Another 261 citations were issued for varied infractions from missing tags to illegal window tints to safety equipment violations.

Houston County motorists can expect similar roadblocks and concentrated patrols at varied times throughout the enforcement effort, Hayes said in a telephone interview.

The weekend crackdown was part of a 90-day effort targeting communities that have made the “Deadly Dozen” list of crashes, according to the news release. Houston County reported 11 fatalities so far this year, according to the release.

The effort includes varied safety belt and sobriety road checks on local roads and concentrated patrols on state routes, rural roads and interstate highways, the release stated.

“These impaired drivers are the kind of extreme high-risk drivers we hope to continue rounding up with Operation Thunder,” Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Bob Dallas said in the news release. “We want to see impaired drivers behind bars before their reckless conduct behind the wheel puts families in the Houston County area in peril on the road.”

About 75 to 100 law enforcement officers are participating, including officers from county and city agencies in Houston County, the Middle Georgia Traffic Enforcement Network, the Georgia State Patrol, the state Department of Public Safety’s Motor Carrier Compliance Division and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety’s specialized H.E.A.T. (Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic) unit.

In addition to random enforcement waves, Houston County sheriff’s and Warner Robins police patrols are expected to target high-injury and fatality crash locations, Hayes said. The enforcement action, which ends Jan. 31, 2010, is designed to improve safety on public roadways, he said.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.