Holiday season brings increased DUI enforcement in Georgia

Published 4:04 pm Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is teaming up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and law enforcement officers this holiday season to remind all motorists that drinking and driving will not only get you on Santa’s naughty list, but it will also send you straight to jail.

That means that from Dec. 15 to Jan. 2 in Georgia, law enforcement all over the state will be looking to prevent tragedy before it strikes during the holiday enforcement campaign of Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over. While Georgia’s impaired driving laws are enforced 24/7/365, the holiday season brings extra emphasis because of the increased number of travelers hitting the road to see friends and family.

Why the continued emphasis on drunk driving? In 2016, Georgia experienced 368 alcohol-impaired fatalities, which is 10 more than 2015, for a total of 24 percent of all traffic fatalities. This means nearly a quarter of all traffic deaths in Georgia involve an impaired driver.

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“The holidays should be a time for celebrations and making memories, not a time of tragedy,” GOHS Director Harris Blackwood said.  “Not only do we want people to get a designated driver to begin with, but we want them to know that if they fail to do so, they will go to jail. No warnings, no excuses.”

According to NHTSA, 37,461 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2016 and 28 percent of those fatalities involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit of .08, which is the current limit in all 50 states. These crash deaths affect motorists, passengers and pedestrians alike.

“Unfortunately, alcohol at many holiday events contributes to the number of impaired drivers on our roads,” Blackwood said. “When you are planning what you are going to wear, what time you are going to arrive and what you are going to bring, also plan ahead for your sober ride home with a designated driver, ride service or a friend.”

Drinking and driving should never be combined. It’s essential to plan a sober ride in advance if the holiday celebration will include alcohol. The alternative could change your life, not to mention the lives of your passengers, or of other pedestrians or drivers and passengers nearby.

GOHS and NHTSA suggest the following safety tips to enjoy a safe night out this holiday season:

·Plan ahead. If you plan to drink, plan for a sober driver to take you home. If it’s your turn to be the designated driver, take the responsibility seriously.

·Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve only had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get home safely.

·Use rideshare programs like Uber or Lyft.

·Download GOHS’ ‘Drive Sober, Georgia’ smartphone app for a list of sober ride programs and taxi services in your area or program taxi company phone numbers into your phone ahead of time.

·Be prepared to take keys away from someone who is impaired and if you see an impaired driver while on the road, call 9-1-1 or dial *GSP from your cell phone to be connected to the nearest state patrol post.

“We want to keep Georgia’s roads safe this holiday season and help people understand that the only time they should be behind the wheel is when they are sober,” Blackwood said. “Alcohol affects people differently and you do not have to be feeling or acting drunk to be too impaired to drive.