Operation Thunder checkpoint hits close to 60 DUIs

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News 12 at 11 O'clock / Sunday, November 3, 2013

Operation Thunder rolls back into town (WRDW-TV)

Augusta, G.a. (WRDW) - "I would much rather bail him out of jail then have to go identity his body at the morgue," said Susan Turner.

It's more than just about a DUI for her. It's about a life that was taken too soon.

"He was so used to driving drunk that he thought nothing of it," she told News 12's Patrick Price.

Her son Matt died while driving drunk. It happened in 2011, years before Operation Thunder hit the roads of Augusta --

"If he had been pulled that night or any other night that he was drunk driving, he might still be here with us," she said.

So this weekend. she's applauding the sheriffs office/

On Friday night, deputies pulled in 36 DUI's. Saturday night, there were 20.

That's close to 60 in just two nights.

"It's not a good number for us, we need to keep those as low as possible," said Lt. Lewis Blanchard with the Richmond County Sheriffs Office.

He's disappointed. Since the break in Operation Thunder, DUI numbers have gone back up.

"We had gotten our DUI's through Operation Thunder, we gotten them back down where we couldn't find but 10 or 15 a night," said Blanchard.

But he's expecting that to change very quickly. Over the next two months, Operation Thunder will be back in Augusta.

"Last year, November and December were our worst months for fatalities," he said.

Months where more drivers are on the roads, possibly drinking and driving.

"People have gotten lax again it seems like, and they're not using designated drivers or taxis as much as they should," said Blanchard.

Susan Tuner says, "It's not going through their head that they're going to get in this car and drive away and die."

It might sound scary but she knows first hand how it feels to lose someone to drunk driving. She hopes her loss will be a lesson for others.

"It's to teach people not to drink and drive, if my buddy gets caught drinking and driving, then maybe I won't," she said.

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