The H.E.A.T. is on for the holidays

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December 14, 2006

Richmond County is celebrating its one-year anniversary of H.E.A.T., a traffic enforcement program that's put three extra patrol cars out on the roads to catch speeders and drunk drivers.

News 12 examines just how effective they've been, and how this holiday season could be anything but merry.

Lots of us have holiday traditions. So do H.E.A.T. deputies.

When it's time for parties and parades, it's time for them to crack down.

"We still have a lot of problems with DUI and speeding, and the combination of them is usually pretty deadly," Sgt. Pete Lamb told News 12.

Sgt. Lamb heads Richmond County's H.E.A.T team. His squad has made nearly five hundred DUI arrests already this year.

In the next few weeks, they'll make even more.

'Tis the season trips will be taken.

Traffic will get troubling, and Sgt. Lamb will be out with bells on.

He and two other deputies are paid by the state to guard Augusta's roads.

"If you're going to be out, I would try to be in early...but definitely be looking out for the other guy," Sgt. Lamb recommended.

National studies suggest that after 1 a.m., one in seven people driving are under the influence.

That's why H.E.A.T. was formed. It stands for Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic, and it's paid for by a $250,000 grant.

This is just the beginning. Friday marks the start of operation zero tolerance.

What that means is for the next two weeks, we'll see lots of road checks and more patrol cars. They'll be out on Bobby Jones, I-20, Highway name it.

H.E.A.T. teams don't just catch drunk drivers.

So far this year, from January to November, they've caught 3,120 speeders. 417 people have been ticketed for seatbelt violations. 50 tickets have been written for violations involving child restraints.

137 people have been caught driving with a suspended license. 37 people were caught without any insurance.

There have been 19 arrests involving drugs. 7 stolen vehicles have been recovered.

And the H.E.A.T. teams have made 12 other felony arrests.