Police to crack down on travelers

Motorists are being given fair warning by both state and local law enforcement officials that the Labor Day holiday travel period will be closely monitored for speeders, impaired drivers and those violating child safety seat and seat belt laws.

"The Labor Day holiday is every Georgian's last celebration of summer. But for some, it's just another summer six-pack tradition to kick off an entire weekend celebrating the consumption of adult beverages," according to a printed press release issued by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. "And that makes Labor Day weekend one of the most dangerous travel periods on our highways because too many party-people leave their designated drivers behind at the barbecue. So every year, too many Georgians will die in alcohol-related crashes during the Labor Day weekend."

The office says the Labor Day Operation Zero Tolerance DUI enforcement began Aug. 15 and will continue through Monday. It includes patrolling the roadways, as well as sobriety checkpoints manned by Georgia State Patrol troopers as well as deputies with the Newton and Rockdale sheriff's offices.

The office urges all drivers to keep this year's motto - "Slow Down, Buckle-up and Drive Sober!" - in mind and promises that no impaired driver will receive just a warning or a citation. "If you're caught driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration at or over the illegal limit of 0.08, you will be arrested," the release stated.

Also, the office reminds motorists that as of July 1, a tougher state DUI law with increased penalties went into effect. The law creates a felony-level DUI charge for repeat offenders who've stacked up four DUI convictions in a 10-year period. Also, first-time offenders must undergo drug and alcohol evaluation that could result in a strict, court-supervised substance abuse treatment program.

According to the press release, statistics show that one out of every three of the 1,700-plus fatal crashes in Georgia each year involves an impaired driver.

"This landmark legislation carries heavier fines, mandatory offender evaluations and jail times, stricter probation, and longer community service penalties," said Director Bob Dallas of the GOHS. "It should make any responsible driver think twice before ever climbing behind the wheel while impaired."