HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Department mobilized traffic checkpoints at two separate locations on the evening of Wednesday, May 23, charging motorists with driving under the influence and drug-related offenses.
The initial checkpoint took place at approximately 8 p.m. in the vicinity of the Bell Creek Car Wash on state Route 75 north. According to the incident report, Hiawassee Police Department made contact with a grey Chevrolet Impala, occupied by three subjects. Upon interaction, the officer detected the odor of alcohol within the vehicle. The male driver consented to a preliminary breath test, which detects the presence of alcohol, and the breathalyzer registered 0.103 percent blood alcohol concentration. The maximum limit in Georgia to operate a motorized vehicle is .08 percent. The suspect then consented to standardized field sobriety testing, soon thereafter declining to participate. The driver was taken into custody by the officer. In addition, morphine pills were discovered in an unmarked bottle within the vehicle, and the suspect was charged with driving under the influence, drugs to be kept in original container, and creating hazardous or offensive conditions.
A subsequent checkpoint occurred on South Main Street, near Azalea Drive, at approximately 10 p.m. A female motorist was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, open container violation, and obstructing law enforcement officers. Several bottles of alcohol were discovered within the vehicle by Hiawassee officers after the odor of alcohol and marijuana was detected, providing officers with probable cause to conduct a search. According to the incident report, the female suspect proceeded to ingest “a green, leafy substance.” The subject denied possession of marijuana.
In other news, at a recent city council work session, Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith provided additional information on a significant drug arrest that took place within the city limits May 15, 2018. Federal and state charges resulted from the observation of the odor of marijuana noted by officers upon response to an unrelated panic alarm, originating from the AT&T store on Main Street. It was determined by responding officers that the odor wafted from an adjoining apartment, and a warrant to search the residence was obtained. Upon execution of the warrant, illicit substances, firearms, $700 in cash, and a postal scale were seized as evidence. Barry Hunter Collins was arrested and charged with multiple felonies, including a federal charge. Collins was an employee of the Blairsville postal service at the time of his arrest.
Chief Smith released the regularly-complied department activity report for the month of April, and while statistics continue to show a decrease in drug-related arrests – with only a single misdemeanor arrest for possession of under an ounce of marijuana and drug-related objects – the overall amount of issued citations increased in comparison to the previous month. A total of 115 citations were written in April, 35 of which were warnings. Data from March revealed a total of 79 citation, 21 being warnings. The highest amount of citations were the result of speeding, followed by tag registration and license requirements, safety belt violations, and brake lights or turn signal infractions.
Hiawassee Police Department conducted 237 calls for service in April, a combination of dispatched and self-initiated.
On Saturday, May 26, the Hiawassee Police Department held a child car seat safety check on Hiawassee Town Square. The event drew 20 participants, with 11 cars seats determined defective, and replaced at no charge.
[Feature photo: Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith displays the department’s former patch, while sporting the newly-acquired design, created by Smith]