The agency has been awarded a traffic safety Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic, or H.E.A.T., grant of almost $2.37 million from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, according to a press release from the Georgia State Patrol.
The grant will allow the agency to continue its Nighthawks DUI Task Force as well as the department’s Administrative License Suspension (ALS) program.
H.E.A.T.'s primary goals are to reduce impaired driving crashes, reduce excessive speeding, increase the safety belt usage rate and educate the public about traffic safety.
The grant went into effect on Oct. 1, 2013, and will continue until Sept. 30.
The ALS program and the GSP Nighthawks were created in 2004. Under the ALS program, troopers receive training, legal assistance and, in some cases, legal representation as they testify at ALS hearings for drivers charged with driving under the influence.
In Georgia, under certain circumstances, the state can administratively suspend a person's driver’s license and an ALS hearing is held when a motorist contests the suspension.
Former prosecutor Dee Brophy is the ALS attorney who developed the program and represents troopers at the ALS hearings.
The GSP Nighthawks Task Force is comprised of three teams of troopers who have undergone specialized training in impaired driving enforcement.
The Nighthawks began patrols in the fall of 2004 in Fulton, Cobb, Clayton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties during the peak hours for impaired drivers. In 2009, the initiative added six troopers to the metro team and also formed a team to patrol the Savannah-Statesboro area. Additionally, troopers patrol in the Athens-Clarke County area. In 2012, a third team was formed to patrol in Macon and Columbus.
Impaired drivers account for almost one-third of the traffic deaths on Georgia roads each year and the effort to reduce the number of impaired driving fatal crashes is one of the objectives of the Nighthawk DUI Task Force, according to the agency.
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