For the past year, two sheriff’s deputies have been specifically dedicated to catching drunk drivers in Charleston County, and that effort is paying off, authorities said. The Sheriff’s Office is now being recognized as having the top DUI enforcement team in the country.

The National Criminal Enforcement Association, a Georgia-based nonprofit, recently awarded the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office the honor for its work last year.

The department’s crackdown on DUIs is largely in part to a grant awarded in 2011 by the S.C. Department of Highway Safety, Sheriff Al Cannon said. It funded two new cruisers specifically operated by the DUI team, as well as the salary for two deputies dedicated to cracking down on motorists driving under the influence.

“We have increased our DUI arrests dramatically since we brought these two deputies on. That’s what they concentrate on,” Cannon said.

In 2012, the two deputies made 114 DUI arrests.

The grant is for three years, but the department is required to reapply annually. Earlier this month, it was granted funding for the second year. Sheriff’s officials said it’s a grant they hope to apply for again once the three years are up.

The national enforcement group also presented Deputy Chris Craven with the award for the top DUI enforcement officer for 2012. Deputy Shawn James also was honored for valor and courage during an incident on S.C. Highway 61 last April.

Terrance Alexzander Green, 21, is accused of gunning his red Chevrolet Sonic at James as the officer approached the vehicle. James fired shots into the car, wounding Green, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or