On St. Patrick's Day people come out in droves to celebrate the Irish holiday; a tsunami of green sweeps over the city and the Guinness flows freely. With that cheery frivolity comes the chance that a number of drivers may make the unfortunate decision to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. Local law enforcement routinely amp up efforts around this holiday, and the government has sponsored many St. Patty's Day specific campaigns against drunk driving.
The Twiggs County Sheriff's Office, alongside many other state agencies, set up a DUI checkpoint at exit 27 of Interstate-16, believing many would be heading east to Savannah to celebrate. Roger Hayes of the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) dubbed the checkpoint “Operation Wrong Exit,” noting that 2017 marked the 15th year that Twiggs County has conducted a St. Patrick's Day DUI checkpoint. Describing the nature of the checkpoint, Hayes told WMAZ "When you come up the exit ramp, a Twiggs County Deputy greets you, will talk with you just a moment, if they have any suspicion of any violations of the law or your story doesn't make good sense, they will just ask you to simply pull over . . . [i]f nothing is detected and your driver's license comes back valid and everything is good to go, we send you down the road with minimum delay." The figure of total arrests made is unclear, however over 50 people had been arrested by 6 pm and law enforcement expected that number to double by midnight on St. Patrick's Day. Few residents were surprised at the presence of the checkpoint; they have come to expect it every year. The GOHS has gone so far as to create a smartphone app called Drive Safe, Georgia which offers a database of safe ride options around the state.
The exact period of heightened enforcement was 6 p.m. on March 16 to 6 a.m. on March 18. Police anticipated an even higher number of arrests this year with St. Patrick's Day falling on a Friday. With law enforcement on the offensive, it is advisable for everyone to make solid transportation arrangements for every holiday when they plan to drink and avoid being saddled with a DUI charge.
While the Supreme Court holds that DUI checkpoints are constitutionally permissible, 10 states have outlawed them on the grounds that they violate their state constitutions. None of these ten states are in the South. Checkpoints have raised legal and ethical questions about invasion of privacy and unreasonable search and seizure in the past. Nevertheless, they are still employed in the state of Georgia and are yet another reason drivers should be wary of becoming ensnared in DUI charges.
No one can foresee the circumstances they will end up in, especially during such chaotic times as holidays. If you were charged with a DUI over St. Patrick's Day, you are probably frightened, confused and “down on your luck.” You can seek skilled legal counsel to scrutinize the charges against you. Contact Forsyth County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson to uphold your rights and fight your charges. Call 404-816-4440 today for a free consultation.