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'Zero Tolerance' for impaired driving during holidays

CONYERS — The annual holiday campaign of Operation Zero Tolerance is underway in Georgia, which means that law enforcement throughout the state is out in force to crack down on drunk drivers through the New Year’s holiday.

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 blood alcohol content limit.

“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.”

According to the GOHS, data show that in Georgia, celebrations of the holiday season can lead to 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 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that the holiday season is a particularly deadly time due to the increased number of drunk drivers on the road. 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 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.”

Drivers convicted of DUI could face jail time, the loss of their drivers licenses, higher insurance rates, and other expenses ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car towing and repairs, to lost wages due to time off from work.

To learn more about impaired driving safety and consequences as well as the Operation Zero Tolerance campaign, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org.