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Georgia officials launching DUI enforcement effort

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Georgia is joining in a national effort to get drunk drivers off the road in time for a safe and sober Labor Day weekend, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety said. While families and friends statewide mark the unofficial end of summer, law enforcement will be joining the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

The high-visibility enforcement campaign will continue through Sept. 5 and during this period, local law enforcement will launch increased patrols and sobriety checkpoints with the aim of reducing drunk driving crashes, injuries and fatalities. Particular attention will be paid to Labor Day weekend as motorists hit the road for one last summer vacation.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 10,000 people died annually in drunk driving crashes from 2010-14. In Georgia alone in 2014, there were 8,931 alcohol-related crashes that resulted in 5,250 injuries and 165 fatalities. Just during the Labor Day weekend that same year, 40 percent of traffic fatalities nationwide involved drunk drivers. Officials said 83 percent of the drunk driving fatalities during the 2014 holiday weekend occurred between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m., as compared with 50 percent during that time frame during the rest of the year.

“People need to realize that drunk driving is not only deadly, but illegal, and it’s illegal 24/7/365,” Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood said. “Unfortunately, drunk driving is still a problem in Georgia, with far too many people becoming statistics. It’s not only your responsibility to drive sober, but to also be on the lookout for other drivers who could be drunk. It’s everybody’s business because everybody is put at risk when a drunk driver gets behind the wheel.”

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is urging all those who plan to celebrate Labor Day weekend to download the “Drive Sober, Georgia” smartphone app before hitting the road. The app provides a list of sober ride programs by region and can be a potentially lifesaving tool when downloaded ahead of time, officials said.

“The cost of a ride sharing service or a cab ride is nothing compared to the thousands of dollars it will cost you if you are charged with impaired driving,” Blackwood said. “There is no price tag that can be placed on the lives of those who are lost in traffic crashes caused by drunk and impaired drivers.”

Being a sober driver or getting a sober driver is critical on travel holidays like Labor Day weekend, officials said. In 2014, 40 percent of crash deaths involved drivers with a .08 or higher blood alcohol concentration and 28 percent involved drivers with a .15 BAC or higher, which is virtually twice the legal limit.

“There are people who like to pretend that the laws don’t apply to them, but whether you stay in Georgia for the holiday weekend or head to one of the lakes or beaches offered by our five neighboring states, you’ll encounter zero tolerance for impaired drivers and a .08 BAC that will send you straight to jail,” Blackwood said.

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