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Operation Thunder returns to find some traffic problems still high

Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 3:28 PM
Last updated 7:25 PM
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Operation Thunder returned during the weekend to find that some of the major traffic issues present earlier this year still rank high.

“Our biggest disappointment was that DUIs were a little high, and so were child seats,” said Lt. Lewis Blanchard.

Child-seat violations topped the list with more than 50 citations, and DUIs came in at second with just under 50 arrests.

Richmond County deputies worked with the Georgia State Patrol on Friday and Saturday evening to set up checkpoints at six locations.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety brought Operation Thunder to Richmond County for three months this year in an effort to cut down the high number of fatalities the county saw in 2012.

When the operation ended in June, officials said it would never really be over. The operation returns to the county randomly for smaller operations, such as the one last weekend.

Throughout the major operation, driving under the influence and child safety seat citations remained high. The numbers began to fall as the operation came to an end, showing law enforcement that people were adopting better, safer habits.

The weekend operation, however, made law enforcement fear that bad habits are still present.

“We hope that our continued efforts will remind people to plan ahead with designated drivers or taxis,” Blanchard said. “It is also extremely disappointing to see so many people driving their children around during late night hours without having them in proper child seats or booster seats.”

The sheriff’s office plans to hold complimentary car seat safety inspections in December. Anyone who cannot afford a seat is asked to contact Safe Kids of Augusta.

Operation Thunder totals

Seat belts: 22

Child restraint: 52

DUI: 47

Uninsured motorists: 9

Open container: 10

Suspended/revoked license: 38

Excessive tint: 2

Other violations: 80

Warnings: 92

Vehicle pursuits: 1

Warrants issued: 12

Misdemeanor drug cases: 8

Road check locations: Richmond Hill Road, Stevens Creek Road, Kissingbower Road, Lumpkin Road, River Watch Parkway and Washington Road.

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Frank I
1204
Points
Frank I 11/04/13 - 04:55 pm
8
1
how many?

How many law abiding citizens had their fourth amendment rights encroached upon? Can we really determine whether this was an outrageous expenditure of resources or if it was truly a "success" if we're not provided with total number of citizens they made contact with. If they contacted 300, then maybe it was worth it. If they made contact with 1000 people over the course of the weekend or more even, then that's 5% or less. They could have done that much driving around instead of fishing with a papers please dragnet.

Riverman1
93813
Points
Riverman1 11/04/13 - 05:20 pm
7
1
It appears most checkpoints

It appears most checkpoints were in West Augusta. I wonder why?

IBeDogGone
3015
Points
IBeDogGone 11/04/13 - 06:00 pm
1
1
Child Restraints

Apparently the officer who checked me when I went through a check point did not know he was supposed to check for child restraints. He checked my license and registration and waived at my 2 grandchildren. They were safely restrained but if you going to do it do it right!

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 11/04/13 - 07:57 pm
0
7
biggest disappointment?
Unpublished

“Our biggest disappointment was that DUIs were a little high, and so were child seats,” said Lt. Lewis Blanchard. Really? Yes DUIs are too high. But they are real easy to spot if you know how to look. We eventually take your license and car and you are on a moped or bicycle. These are real easy to spot, fish in a barrel so to speak. When we convict a drunk driver, leave them is jail.

thauch12
7076
Points
thauch12 11/04/13 - 08:32 pm
7
1
Wrong, redneck.

^No please don't do that and waste any more of my precious taxpayer money than is absolutely necessary in these revenue generating witch hunts.

specsta
7137
Points
specsta 11/04/13 - 10:46 pm
11
0
Fear and Intimidation

Augusta has horrible drivers, let's face it. They speed, tailgate, change lanes without signaling, speed through parking lots, do not understand the difference between "Yield" and "Merge", have no concept of the two-second rule, and can be arrogant and aggressive against drivers who are trying to follow the rules.

But guess what? NONE of those atrocious driving behaviors will be witnessed at a roadblock or "safety" checkpoint. These behaviors are only seen when law enforcement is actually out driving patrols on the highways. The thing is, law enforcement engages in these same behaviors, sometimes even worse behavior.

Roadblocks only serve to intimidate law-abiding citizens. The Supreme Court even acknowledged the fear and intimidation factor in the landmark case Fitz v The Michigan State Police, where the Court affirmed that citizens have the RIGHT to avoid these roadblocks, by turning onto a different roadway or by making a U-turn, if no traffic laws are broken while doing so.

Cops strapped with 9mm Glocks and other weapons, peering into your car with flashlights and asking questions (which do not have to be answered) is a police-state nightmare that is getting worse and worse.

I am not against bad drivers being held accountable for their behavior. I am against police intrusions into our right to move about freely (roadblocks) and against intrusions into our rights under the Fourth Amendment (illegal car searches).

itsanotherday1
48341
Points
itsanotherday1 11/04/13 - 11:29 pm
6
1
Well stated specsta! Road

Well stated specsta on all points! Road patrol needs to do just that; patrol the roads to catch the impaired drivers and the reckless ones, not snag some poor sap who shared a pitcher at some pizza parlor, and is .08.

CobaltGeorge
176030
Points
CobaltGeorge 11/05/13 - 06:17 am
3
1
WOW,

I can believe it. I'm totally agreeing with specsta!

seenitB4
97706
Points
seenitB4 11/05/13 - 06:20 am
3
3
No they were not

Not all in West Augusta...Lumpkin--Kissingbower-Richmond Hill....they are NOT targeting YOU River...

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11036
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 11/05/13 - 06:28 am
4
4
police intrusions into our right

You may want to rethink that statement. While you may be able to drive, it is a priviledge granted by the state, NOT, a right! That priviledge can be revoked anytime they wish... As for the poor sap who only had a few mugs with pizza and registers .o8, remember your words when you make funeral arrangements or attend a service for a friend who met that poor sap the hard way. Some people can register .20 and hardly show it and some can't even put their hands on their hips at .04!

Riverman1
93813
Points
Riverman1 11/05/13 - 07:03 am
4
2
SeenIt, heh, heh, heh

SeenIt, heh, heh, heh. I don't drink and drive, nor take meds and drive, etc. But half the checkpoints were in West Augusta is my point. I guarantee you there are some places where almost every vehicle stopped could be ticketed for something. But many of these people will not pay and will overload the jail until they are released. That's why those areas are not targeted. Plus, could it be to appease certain voters?

But to the bigger issue. I've complained about these police state checkpoints until I'm blue in the face. Spectra handled it well today. It is an intrusion of the worst kind on our constitutional rights.

nocnoc
49207
Points
nocnoc 11/05/13 - 07:04 am
2
1
Ok lets go ahead and warn everybody

of the Speed Traps and Road blocks.

These are the ones that quickly come to mind.

Hwy 56 Between Lumpkin and BJ 520
Hwy 56 Hill to the bottom near Phinizy Rd.
BJ-520 East bound bottom of Richmond hill rd just past US 25 exit,
BJ-520 East bound Hwy 56 and 56 loop Exits
BJ-520 West bound Bottom of Glenn Hills Hill near Gordon Hwy
BJ-520 West bound just passed the Mall and between Wheeler Rd.
US 25 North bound Bottom of Gracewood Hill. to Phinizy Rd.
Deans bridge Hill South Bound just passed Meadow Brook &Barton Chapel.
River Watch exp. (watch for sudden Speed limits changes.)
I-20 coming into GA from SC. Between River Watch and Walton way Ext exit.
I-20 East bound just pass the Wheeler rd. Hill near the bottom of the hill.

Feel free to add yours.

NOTE: sure seems to be a lot of "AT THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL" Speed Traps, don't here? Remember ride your brakes down all hills during Operation Thunder Blunder and always have your travels papers/permits ready for the Travel Checkpoints.

Riverman1
93813
Points
Riverman1 11/05/13 - 07:39 am
3
2
Constitutional Safeguards

These roadblock checkpoints of drivers on public road that question and make the drivers show their papers remind me of the stop and frisk methods used to question and search people walking down the sidewalk without reason in New York.

The writers of our Constitution had no such intent in mind and, in fact, wanted to safeguard us from such intrusions. Preventing such measures is WHAT THE CONSTITUTION IS ABOUT. In some places block searches of all houses have been done without warrants. Where does it all stop? Our guns are being outlawed in many jurisdictions. As our federal, state and local governments swing more to a leftist socialized state expect more violations of our constitutional rights and more questionable police methods.

Realize the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the mid 80s that these DUI checkpoints were a TEMPORARY MEASURE made necessary because of the national emergency of drunk drivers. Their reasoning was that the U.S. had previously undertaken extra constitutional methods during wartime due to necessity and this was such a condition. They were tacitly admitting the Constitution was being violated.

I have no ill feelings whatsoever against the RCSO. Most of you know I’m a supporter of Sheriff Roundtree and his officers. It’s not their fault. They are playing with the hand dealt them. But if we allow the infringement of our rights, where does it stop? I will tell you this, with the current leftist mentality in our nation, warrantless home searches will become more prevalent. When you start giving in to anything by violating the privacy and rights of our legal citizens you are on the path to something much worse than what you are trying to prevent with the intrusions.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11036
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 11/05/13 - 08:01 am
2
1
Inconvenienced

I guess I'm the only one who would rather be inconvenienced for 5 minutes, than be injured, maimed or killed by the one who got by with it. Until you've picked up the pieces of bodies and children from the roadway because someone only had a few beers or drinks you'll never understand. Until you deliver a message to parents at 2:00 am that they are needed at the ER to identify their childs body, you'll never understand. Until you try to guide a helicopter in to land on a roadway and miss the overhead powerlines in hopes that they can get someone to the hospital in time to save them, you'll never understand. Until you hold a child in your arms reassuring them as they take their last breath, you'll never understand!

Riverman1
93813
Points
Riverman1 11/05/13 - 08:22 am
4
2
I think many of us do understand

ColdBeer, I think many of us do understand. I appreciate your personal view of the tragedies and warnings to others to be safe with sober driving, but that's not the point. Driving in itself results in many abhorrent and sad casualties. Drunk driving is an evil just as murder is, but we can't infringe on everyone's rights because we think a few MAY commit murder.

LillyfromtheMills
14317
Points
LillyfromtheMills 11/05/13 - 08:47 am
3
0
I agree with y'all

But how in the hell can a parent put their child in a car without restraining them?

itsanotherday1
48341
Points
itsanotherday1 11/05/13 - 09:01 am
4
1
CBBP

I'll take my chances on the road with a .08 driver who has done nothing to demonstrate impairment; vs the .15 (or more) drunk wobbling down the highway who is unnoticed by the police because they are not patrolling.

itsanotherday1
48341
Points
itsanotherday1 11/05/13 - 09:18 am
3
0
THE FACTS Most drivers who

THE FACTS
Most drivers who have had something to drink have low blood alcohol content or concentration (BAC) and few are involved in fatal crashes. On the other hand, while only a few drivers have BACs higher than .15, a much higher proportion of those drivers have fatal crashes.

The average BAC among fatally injured drinking drivers is .16
.
.
.
.
Drugs and driving may be a bigger problem than generally recognized. A New England Journal of Medicine report on drivers without alcohol in their systems who were stopped by police for reckless driving found that 45% had marijuana and 25% had cocaine in their systems. 4

http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/DrinkingAndDriving.html#.Unj-HpR4bOc

Riverman1
93813
Points
Riverman1 11/05/13 - 09:24 am
3
1
The truth is legal drugs that

The truth is legal drugs that impair driving are the cause of a great percentage of accidents. They are impossible to discover without elaborate testing not available at checkpoints.

nocnoc
49207
Points
nocnoc 11/05/13 - 11:03 am
2
1
An Good BAD Example

REAL LIFE - NOT MADE UP

Picture a neighbor down the street that has had 3 DUI
convictions before he turned 30.

A DUI every few years after he married.

A good olde boy that loves to fish and hunt and drink... really drink. Can't drink, just a 12 pack at a time.

A wife that supports him because he can't or won't keep a job.

2 pre-teen Kids that have watch daddy get arrested in the front yard more than once.

A wife that in the last 65 days bonded him out ($14,000+ bond) again after totaling out his SUV. Drinking at his Cousins watching at game party.

He is now charged with Habitual Offender because of too many arrests and convictions, leaving the scene not once, but twice, DUI, property damage, failure to keep control, false statements and etc.

At his arrangement he pleaded NOT Guilty.
He still has his driver license and could be driving if he had a vehicle.

Do I have a problem with Drunks that drive? YES.
Do I have a problem Travel Check points? YES.
Do I have a problem with eroding 4th amendment Constitutional Rights? A BIG YES

If they really wanted to eliminate 60+% of the DRUNK DRIVERS ? All they have to do is require every bar to have a breath tester with a contracted taxi service covered by the bar for the 1st 10 miles. Those that sell too many drinks to a person let them cover their business problem.

If the drunk needs to go further have the drunk pony up the extra $$$.

Want further reduce DUI's?
All RCSO has to do is setup random DUI Checkpoints in the bar parking lots or next to the Bars parking lot. Yes setup a Check point on Board St. between 5th street and 4th or a dozen other locations that produce too many DUI's.

We talk about Anti-2nd Hand Smoking Myths, but DUI death is real.
It is proven year after year to kill about 10,000 people a year and maimed another 45,000. Kenny a good friend of mine from Hephzibah was killed because of a DUI driver back in the 70's. My own brother was almost killed on US 25 when a 18 y/o drunk exiting BJ-520 ran the red light pushing his car door into the next car seat.

So, If we REALLY want to fight DUI's and not
use DUI's as a cover reason?
Then why not
focus on where the DUI drivers frequently get wasted?

Seriously, Why let them drive miles on public roads endangering 100' if not 1000's of other, before they maybe get to a checkpoint?

Sweet son
11651
Points
Sweet son 11/05/13 - 12:56 pm
1
0
Middle of the day speed traps!!

Peach Orchard Rd. Northbound from Tobacco Rd. to Phinizy Rd.
Walton Way Ext. from I 20 overpass towards Pleasant home. Both places are traps because they are both downhill grades.

Blanchard, make it fair and do your work on more level sections of the road and especially during daylight hours.

Saw T 16 stop a car from Chatham County traveling North on Peach Orchard. Hope they got a warning because we know they weren't coming to Augusta to drink!

Sweet son
11651
Points
Sweet son 11/05/13 - 12:59 pm
1
0
Middle of the day speed traps!!

Peach Orchard Rd. Northbound from Tobacco Rd. to Phinizy Rd.
Walton Way Ext. from I 20 overpass towards Pleasant Home. Both places are traps because they are both downhill grades.

Blanchard, make it fair and do your work on more level sections of the road and especially during daylight hours.

Saw T 16 stop a car from Chatham County traveling North on Peach Orchard about 11:00 this morning. Hope they got a warning because we know they weren't coming to Augusta to drink!

Tuesday seems to be a good day for 'Blanchard's Boys.'

harley_52
25912
Points
harley_52 11/05/13 - 03:51 pm
0
2
"The truth is...

....legal drugs that impair driving are the cause of a great percentage of accidents. They are impossible to discover without elaborate testing not available at checkpoints."

That's interesting, Riverman. What is the "great percentage?" Is it 30%? 40%? 60%? Also, what evidence do you have to support this "truth?" I haven't heard this "truth" elsewhere reported.

You MAY be right, but the word "truth" sounds like it should be replaced with "my theory," especially when you go on to add that "They are impossible to discover without elaborate testing not available at checkpoints.."

harley_52
25912
Points
harley_52 11/05/13 - 04:30 pm
1
0
I Don't Claim To Know The "Truth"....

...about automobile crash percentages, but there is data to suggest that the use of cell phones is very dangerous and causes plenty of accidents. I'm curious why none show up on the list of violations discovered by "Operation Thunder." I assume some part of them may be included in the 80 "other violations" shown on the list.

Here's some data on the issue, the "truth" of which I cannot guarantee, but it appears to suggest it's a significant problem.

http://www.edgarsnyder.com/car-accident/cell-phone/cell-phone-statistics...

Riverman1
93813
Points
Riverman1 11/05/13 - 06:41 pm
1
0
20% Harley

Well, Harley there is no roadside test for drugs other than the field sobriety test that I know of. An officer can't smell the drugs and so on. There's little to tip him off a driver is using drugs. With alcohol they have the advantage of the odor of alcohol and the Breathalyzer at the scene.

Realize often times the drugs are legal, but not being used as prescribed or even for the right person. I've heard of more than one study concerning drugs that are legal being used by drivers. One I read said over 20% of drivers seriously injured in driving accidents had benzodiazepines, opiates and other prescription drugs.

Here is the quote: "Other drugs commonly implicated in accidents include opiates, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, and cocaine. For instance, in a 2003 study of seriously injured drivers admitted to a Maryland shock trauma center, drugs other than alcohol were present in more than half of the cases. These included marijuana (26.9 percent), cocaine (11.6 percent), benzodiazepines (11.2 percent), and opiates and other prescription drugs (10.2 percent). A quarter of the cases involved both alcohol and other drugs.

Many prescription drugs including opioid pain relievers and benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety or sleep disorders come with warnings against the operation of machinery—including motor vehicles—for a specified period of time after use. When prescription drugs are abused (taken without medical supervision), impaired driving and other harmful reactions become much more likely."

http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving

harley_52
25912
Points
harley_52 11/05/13 - 07:27 pm
0
1
I Read Your Link, Riverman...

....and I still don't see any convincing evidence to demonstrate that the percentage is "20%," or "great," or even "truth."

Your own article says the numbers are not known and explains that "It is hard to measure the exact contribution of drug intoxication to driving accidents, because blood tests for drugs other than alcohol are inconsistently performed, and many drivers who cause accidents are found to have both drugs and alcohol in their system, making it hard to determine which substance had the greater effect."

So, claiming the "truth" to be that a "great percentage" of people who CAUSE accidents are caused by "legal drugs that impair driving" is a pretty shaky declaration, IMHO.

It's fair to say that legal drugs appear to have an impact on accidents, but the actual impact can't be accurately assessed because they are often used along with other things (illegal drugs, alcohol, cell phones, fighting with girlfriends, etc.) that are more, or less, contributory to the accident as well.

I don't have any problem with the statement that legal drugs are probably contributory, but declaring it as "truth" and a "great percentage" is a pretty sketchy proposition.

IMHO.

Riverman1
93813
Points
Riverman1 11/05/13 - 07:36 pm
1
0
Harley, this is over 20% if

Harley, this is over 20% if you add them together. Those are legal drugs. However, I certainly agree with you that it's difficult to determine the causes of the accidents because the users are often also using alcohol. Matter of fact, the study addresses that. It ways 25% were using both alcohol and drugs. I'm also sure many drunk drivers, drug users and those doing both were using their cell phones for what it's worth.

"benzodiazepines (11.2 percent), and opiates and other prescription drugs (10.2 percent)."

harley_52
25912
Points
harley_52 11/05/13 - 08:22 pm
0
1
Riverman...

The statement that "Truth is that legal drugs that impair driving are the cause of a great percentage of accidents" is a statement not supported by the facts. This is clear from the articles we have both posted. Nonetheless, you seem stuck on supporting the claim as you originally stated, even though your own data doesn't support it, rather than admitting it wasn't as concise as you made it sound.

Nevermind...It's not that important.

Riverman1
93813
Points
Riverman1 11/05/13 - 08:21 pm
0
0
Oh, okay. Got it.

Oh, okay. Got it.

Bodhisattva
7212
Points
Bodhisattva 11/06/13 - 07:52 am
0
0
R.I.P.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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