They swoop in like a hawk -- a nighthawk.
Thursday night, after the Rascal Flatts concert at the Columbus Civic Center, I drove downtown for pizza.
It was well after 10:30. While eating the pizza, I had two Miller Lite beers as we sat at a Broadway sidewalk table.
This will become important later in the story.
Pizza was good. Everything was great.
As I paid the tab and left the restaurant and walked to the truck parked around the corner on 11th Street, I briefly thought about throwing the keys to my daughter.
I didn't because I was going four blocks.
As I backed out onto 11th and took a right on First Avenue, I noticed a law enforcement vehicle immediately fell in behind me. As I took a right on 10th Street, the vehicle stayed behind me.
The blue lights went on just before I turned back south onto Broadway,
My first thought: This is going to be interesting. A DUI can be a career killer.
I could now tell it was a Georgia State patrol car as I pulled over. The trooper approached me and matter-of-factly told me he was stopping me for two reasons. First, my tag light was out. Second, I stopped just past the white line at two intersections.
Fair enough. Apparently those laws are more enforceable at 11:30 p.m.
Then, it became obvious the real reason for the stop. He asked if I had been drinking. Honesty being the best policy, I told him I had two beers over a 30-40-minute period.
He then spotted a Coca-Cola in a plastic cup with a straw. He asked whether alcohol was in the cup. I assured him it was straight coke and offered him a sip. He politely declined.
This guy was all business but extremely professional.
He then asked me to take a field breath test, which I readily agreed to do.
"If you are telling me the truth, you will be rolling out of here in less than two minutes," he said.
I blew hard into the straw. He got a good reading and told me it was less than .02, well below the .08 limit.
Then he let me go, just as he promised.
A while back, the newspaper reported that the "Nighthawks," and highly trained six-person unit of the Georgia State Patrol, would be working with local law enforcement to get drunk drivers off the streets. They work when the bars do. And they target bar districts, such as downtown Columbus.
"It's unacceptable for someone to drink and get behind the wheel of a car," Col. Mark McDonough of the Georgia State Patrol said at the time of the announcement. "This is an effort to save lives."
The trooper who stopped me noted that it is not illegal to drink and drive, it is just illegal to drink too much and drive.
Take the drunks off the street. That's good for all of us. But people who drink and drive need to know this: These guys are not playing.
Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, email@example.com.