ATLANTA — Georgia leads the nation for the most violations of drugs and driving under the influence for commercial drivers, according to the Department of Public Safety (GDPS).
Our state is only second to Arizona and nearly doubles the violations.
Sergeant Chase Woodie said troopers across Georgia are keeping an eye out for commercial drivers under the influence. In a social media post, the GDPS shared photos of the booze and bags of marijuana they've confiscated.
"Being under the influence in any vehicle is dangerous. When you put it in a commercial vehicle, that can be an 80,000-pound vehicle," Woodie said.
Woodie said the problem is getting bigger each year. Data from the GDPS revealed in 2021, 459 truckers were taken into custody for DUI. In 2022, the GDPS said that number jumped to 480 and so far in 2023, that number has increased again to 500.
"If they're at a truck stop and they're spending the night, they can go in and get a six-pack," Woodie said. "But it needs to be out of their truck before they continue on the road. And they need to be sober before they hit the road."
The data doesn't surprise Elijah Evans. Evans said he's been driving commercial vehicles for about five years.
"Some people are just irresponsible," Evans said. "Some people get caught by chance. They may have things in their truck that they're not supposed to have and may just randomly get stopped for a DOT inspection."
Evans said a lot of drivers live out of their trucks and forget to remove personal items. And getting caught is easy when you're subject to random inspections.
"They target commercial drivers more because of the penalties," Evans said. "And the fines are so much higher for the local government."
Outside of citations, drivers can be placed out of service for 24 hours or lose their license forever. Woodie said troopers are constantly doing sobriety checkpoints and are launching a K-9 program to sniff out drugs in commercial vehicles.
"Millions of trucks come through this state every month," Woodie said. "So, there are a few bad apples out there. We're not trying to say every commercial vehicle driver is bad."