Law enforcement to step up patrols

CONYERS - Area roadways are expected to be crowded over the long holiday weekend, and local law enforcement officers are prepared.

The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office will step up its traffic enforcement this weekend, particularly during the hours of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Deputies will be blanketing the area searching for intoxicated and aggressive drivers, with special attention given to speeders and those violating seat belt and child restraint laws.

Sobriety check points will also be conducted on various highways and streets throughout the county.

"Please help us make it a safe holiday weekend," said Sheriff Jeff Wigington. "Our goal is to reduce traffic crashes and save lives."

Likewise, Newton County officers will aggressively pursue those who are drinking and driving, as well as those speeding and violating safety belt laws.

"We want citizens to stop and think if they've had anything to drink," said Newton County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Mark Mitchell, assistant Uniform Division supervisor. "They should have a designated driver and think twice about getting the behind wheel of a vehicle. We've seen too many accidents this year that have resulted in injuries and deaths because of alcohol."

Mitchell also reminded drivers that the new Georgia DUI law is in effect which makes the fourth DUI conviction a felony.

NCSO will have stepped up patrols and full enforcement from the Traffic Unit. The Georgia State Patrol will also have units on the road.

Local law enforcement has been partnering with the GSP since June 20 in enforcing the statewide Operation Zero Tolerance, which has been cracking down on impaired drivers.

Despite rising fuel prices, the AAA expects 8.7 million travelers will be on Southern highways this weekend, according to a press release from the Georgia Office of Highway Safety.

The GSP and the Crash Reporting Unit of the Georgia Department of Transportation are predicting 2,315 traffic crashes, 1,094 injuries and 23 traffic deaths during the period that began at 6 p.m. Thursday and will end at midnight Sunday.

During the 30-hour July 4 holiday travel period in 2007, 643 traffic crashes were reported in the state that resulted in 267 injuries and nine traffic fatalities.

News Editor Barbara Knowles contributed to this article.

Aimee Jones can be reached at aimee.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.