Special to the Journal
Atlanta - The annual holiday campaign of Operation Zero Tolerance is under way in Georgia and that means one thing: Law enforcement all over the state is out in full force to crack down on drunk drivers through the New Year’s holiday. If caught behind the wheel, these motorists will learn that if they’re over the limit, they’ll be under arrest.
As usual, Georgia’s holiday impaired driving campaign coincides with the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over program. This is a time when state and local law enforcement will be on the lookout for those drivers who exceed the legal .08 BAC limit, thereby putting themselves and everyone around them at risk.
“You will see troopers, police officers and deputies making lots of stops during this highly visible enforcement period and if they suspect anyone is driving while intoxicated, they will show zero tolerance,” said Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood. “If you are over the limit, you will go straight to jail. No warnings. No excuses.”
Unfortunately, the data shows that here in Georgia, the excitement and celebrations of the holiday season can lead to terrible decisions with serious consequences. Last year between Nov. 20 and Dec. 31, there were 1,119 alcohol-related crashes, which is up from 997 in 2011 and 836 in 2010. Those crashes in 2012 resulted in 679 injuries and 20 deaths.
The sad truth is these numbers don’t stop at the state line. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports the holiday season is a particularly deadly time due to the increased number of drunk drivers on the road. In fact, in the Decembers from 2007 to 2011, there were 4,169 people killed in crashes that involved drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher. Of the 32,367 people killed in traffic crashes nationwide in 2011, 31 percent were in alcohol-related crashes.
“The December holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year and we are going to keep our roads safe for holiday travelers heading to visit family and friends,” said Director Blackwood. “This holiday and every day, we are showing zero tolerance for drunk drivers. If you choose to drive drunk, you will get caught, you will be pulled over and you will be arrested.”
Drunk drivers often face jail time, the loss of their driver’s licenses, higher insurance rates, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car towing and repairs, to lost wages due to time off from work. Even worse, a drunk driver can cause a traffic crash that claims someone’s life, or their own.
To learn more about impaired driving safety and consequences as well as the Operation Zero Tolerance campaign, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org.