Because of this, local law enforcement agencies have announced plans to ramp up their involvement for the next week-and-a-half, to preserve public safety and hopefully prevent crimes from ruining the holidays for victims or innocent bystanders.
Georgia state troopers are cautioning drivers to plan for a sober designated driver if alcohol consumption will be part of their holiday celebrations this year. Troopers will be keeping a close eye out for impaired drivers now through the end of the year.
“Each holiday period, troopers are called to investigate traffic crashes involving serious injuries or fatalities, and these crashes could have been prevented,” Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said in an announcement this week.
Last year during the Christmas holiday period, the state patrol investigated 289 traffic crashes statewide, which resulted in 182 injuries and one fatality. Troopers arrested 139 people for driving under the influence during teh 78 hours of the holiday period.
The New Year’s holiday period last year was even worse. Troopers investigated 296 crashes in Georgia, resulting in 172 injuries and seven traffic deaths. During New Year’s, 262 people were arrested for driving under the influence.
Law enforcement agencies will be running extra patrols and what Capt. Jeff Richards of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office said are “concentrated patrols.”
“It’s about being in the right place at the right time,” Richards said. “We’re going to have more concentrated patrols in high-traffic areas that are known for their crime and accident potential.”
The commissioner of public safety agrees.
“We know from past experience that speed, alcohol and failing to use seat belts are the primary contributing factors in fatal crashes,” McDonough said. “By conducting concentrated patrols or holding road checks across the state, troopers, deputies and officers can intercept violators before they are involved in a serious traffic crash.”
To help save lives, the Temple Police Department is launching a special “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown to stop impaired drivers.
Officer Stephen Johnston said the department’s traffic enforcement unit will be aggressively looking for impaired drivers and will arrest anyone caught driving impaired. Enforcement efforts will include sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, the officer said.
“Lots of folks will be out during this busy holiday season, enjoying themselves and the holiday festivities, and we want everyone to be safe on the roadways,” Johnston said. “That’s why we will be stepping up enforcement to catch and arrest impaired drivers. Please be forewarned. You will be arrested — no warning, no excuses.”
During December 2010, 30 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationwide involved alcohol-impaired drivers. Among those drivers, 71 percent had nearly twice the legal limit blood alcohol concentration level.
“No one ever thinks that their holiday celebration will end in jail, or worse, in a hospital or the morgue,” Johnston said. “But for those who include alcohol in their celebrations and then get behind the wheel, this is often the case.”
For more information about the nationwide campaign, visit the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” online headquarters at www.nhtsa.gov/drivesober.
“Enjoy the holiday period, but also know that if you are driving under the influence, you will go to jail and your vehicle will be impounded on the spot,” McDonough said.