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NCSO H.E.A.T. Unit to target drunk drivers

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) H.E.A.T.  (Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic) Unit will be out in full force this weekend looking for St. Patrick’s Day celebrants who drink and drive.

NCSO Corporal Jacob Rice, the road supervisor for the unit, said H.E.A.T. will be out today starting at 6 p.m. through 3 a.m. Saturday morning looking for drunk drivers, aggressive drivers, speeders and seat belt violations.

Rice said the unit will also be out in force Saturday night looking for those who continue the party through the weekend.

The NCSO H.E.A.T.  Unit is sponsored by the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. The program was established to reduce serious injuries and highway fatalities.

Since its inception in November 2016, the NCSO unit has made 1,565 contacts for seat belt violations, speeding and DUI. According to Rice, contacts include warnings, citations and arrests. Of the 1,565 contacts, 83 were for DUI.

Rice has first-hand knowledge of the dangers of drunk drivers on the road. He said three times, while on patrol, he was almost hit head-on by a drunk driver. He said he was able to turn around and arrest the driver all three times.

Rice also had some simple advice for people going out to celebrate this weekend.

“If you have something to drink, find a designated driver, get a taxi or UBER, or get somebody to pick you up,” he said, “There will be no tolerance for DUI.”

NCSO Public information Officer Sgt. Cortney Morrison said in a press release, “If you see someone who appears to be driving drunk, call 911. The term ‘See something, say something’ applies to traffic as well as crimes in general. Your actions could help save a life.”