DUI Offenders to Be Targeted During the Fourth of July Holiday
July 4th remains one of the most dangerous holidays on Georgia roads and to combat that, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) is joining a national impaired driving enforcement effort to get drunk drivers off the roads and inside a jail cell.
Why? Because alcohol-impaired crashes still account for 23 percent of all traffic fatalities in Georgia and in the last 2 years, the state has averaged 88 alcohol-impaired crashes for the July 3 to July 5 travel period. To help reverse this trend, GOHS will be partnering with law enforcement agencies across the state to launch the annual Operation Zero Tolerance campaign where drivers are warned that if they’re over the limit, they’ll be under arrest.
Getting drunk drivers off the road is even more important at this point in 2013 because crash data indicates Georgia is ahead of its total traffic fatalities from this time last year. As of June 20th last year, the state had experienced 499 fatalities, but that number is at 520 for this year.
“While a 4 percent increase may not seem like a lot to some people, that’s an additional 21 people who won’t be able to celebrate our nation’s independence this year,” said GOHS Director Harris Blackwood. “We’re launching Operation Zero Tolerance to not only rid the roads of drunk drivers, but to try and keep our traffic fatalities as low as possible. We join our partners in all 50 states to warn people to drive sober or get pulled over.”
This year, the Operation Zero Tolerance campaign starts on June 21st and runs through July 7th.
Fourth of July impaired driving crashes aren’t just a problem in Georgia. Nationwide, the percentage of fatalities from impaired driving spike around the Fourth of July. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 251 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the Fourth of July holiday in 2011. Of those fatalities, 38 percent were in crashes that involved at least one impaired driver.
And that level of drunk-driving fatalities is not unique to 2011. Additional NHTSA data shows that during July 4th holidays over the last five years (from 2007 to 2011), 780 people lost their lives in crashes involving drunk drivers. These fatalities accounted for 40 percent of all highway deaths over the same five-year period.
This summer, Georgia has a new partner in combatting DUI’s. Because Georgia’s new boating-under-the-influence law went into effect on May 15th, 2013 marks the first summer where .08 will be the legal blood alcohol limit for both boaters and drivers. GOHS will be partnering with the Department of Natural Resources to enforce Georgia’s zero tolerance DUI policy on both land and water.
“Here in Georgia, drunk driving won’t be tolerated on the road or on the lake,” said Director Blackwood. “Getting drunk boaters off the water helps keep drunk drivers off the road. Nobody should celebrate our nation’s independence with a night in jail because they didn’t find a sober driver.”
For more information on Operation Zero Tolerance, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org.