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DUIs, overall citations up in Hall after traffic unit funding

DUIs cited by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office were up more than 50 percent between 2015 and 2016, and authorities said the number is likely to be higher by year’s end.

There were 262 DUIs in 2015 and 408 DUIs in 2016. Through the first nine months of this year, Sgt. Todd Casper said the department had cited 402 DUIs.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office DUI citations

2015: 262

2016: 408

2017 (first 9 months): 402

Casper said the main reason has been the growth of the traffic unit over the past three years. The traffic unit was able to fill one position and was awarded funding for another two officers through the Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

“The big difference is we’ve got somebody out there to enforce with the sheriff’s office,” Casper said.

Hall County and Gainesville Police received the first installment in February, when Chief Carol Martin and Casper accepted an oversized $250,000 check.

The traffic unit has attempted to track DUIs for better enforcement, but Casper said the ultimate result is scattered across the county.

“There’s no rhyme or reason. They’re patrolling the whole county. They’re getting them everywhere,” he said.

Hall County Treatment Services Director Debbie Mott said DUI Court, an accountability program in the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, has not seen an increase of participants despite the increased DUI numbers. Mott said she believed one reason might be the higher DUI numbers reflect first-time offenders, while DUI Court is for multiple-DUI offenders.

Speeding remained atop the list of citations for the sheriff’s office, as the number of overall citations is also increasing.

There were 6,864 citations for all offenses in the traffic unit last year. Through the first nine months of this year, the traffic unit has written 7,307 citations.

“It’s the one thing that we get the most complaints on and typically it’s the one thing that causes the most wrecks,” Casper said of speeding.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office total traffic citations

2016: 6,864

2017 (first 9 months): 7,307

At the University of North Georgia’s Dahlonega campus, police have also seen an increase in alcohol-related arrests.

According to the university’s annual security report, there were six on-campus liquor law violations in 2015. In 2016, the on-campus number jumped to 56.

“One of the things that we did in 2016 is increase our training, if you will, with our officers and our (resident assistant) staff on the use of alcohol and the law regarding alcohol,” UNG Police Chief Justin Gaines said.

Gaines also pointed to a 540-bed increase in that time period.

“Our officers are required to go through every residence hall twice in a 12-hour period, so we’re in and out of the buildings more than we ever have been,” he said.

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