December 14, 2021
Holiday Motorists Warned to Not Make the Wrong Choice to Drink and Drive
Annual 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' Education and Enforcement Campaign starts Wednesday
(ATLANTA) The Governor's Office of Highway Safety, Georgia State Patrol, GOHS Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (H.E.A.T.) units, and GOHS Traffic Enforcement Network members kicked off the annual 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' holiday DUI education and enforcement campaign Tuesday by reminding motorists to make the smart decision to never drink and drive. State troopers and local law enforcement officers are stepping up traffic enforcement during the Christmas/New Year's holiday season and will take any drunk or drugged driver they find to jail No excuses! No exceptions!
The increased enforcement effort is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) national 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' mobilization, which runs from December 15, 2021 through January 2, 2022. According to NHTSA, approximately one out of three traffic deaths in the United States involve a driver whose Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of .08 or higher.
Georgia law enforcement officers and highway safety advocates are urging anyone planning to include alcohol in their celebration to include a plan for a ride with a sober driver, cab or rideshare, during the 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' kickoff at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"If you are pulled over and found to be over the legal limit, do not ask for a warning or to call someone to come pick you up because it will be too late," GOHS Director Allen Poole said. "When alcohol is going to be included in the plans, make plans ahead for a sober ride, which will allow you to enjoy your time with family and friends without having to worry about how you are getting home."
According to the Georgia State Patrol, 33 people were killed in crashes during the 78-hour Christmas and 78-hour New Year's holiday travel periods in 2020. Twenty people were killed in crashes from 6:00 p.m. Thursday, December 24, 2020 to 11:59 p.m. through Sunday, December 27, 2020, and 13 people were killed in crashes from 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 31, 2020 through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, January 3, 2021.
Data from NHTSA's Fatality Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST) shows 83 people have died in crashes in Georgia involving a driver whose BAC was over the legal limit during the final 15 days of December from 2015-2019, and 59 of those persons died in crashes involving a driver whose BAC was twice the legal limit.
While alcohol was a factor in approximately one out of four traffic deaths in Georgia each year, half of the traffic deaths that have happened in Georgia from 6:00 p.m. on New Year's Eve to 6:00 a.m. on New Year's morning from 2015-2019 involved a driver whose BAC was over the legal limit. Twenty people have died in traffic crashes over the 12-hour period from New Year's Eve night to New Year's Eve morning from 2015 to 2019, and ten of those died in crashes involving a driver whose BAC was above the legal limit. Seven of those ten people died in crashes involving a driver whose BAC was .15 or higher.
NHTSA says 210 people were killed during the 2019 Christmas and New Year's holiday periods, which is more than any other holiday period that year. The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in the United States in 2019 was 3.3 times higher at night than during the day.
"The goal of the 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign is to eliminate all drunk driving deaths by getting all motorists to always make the wise decision to not get behind the wheel when they are over the limit," Poole said. "Until we reach that day, state troopers and local law enforcement officers will continue to prevent drunk driving deaths by taking drunk and drugged drivers to jail."
AAA Georgia will once again offer free tows for those too impaired to drive during the holiday season through the Tow-to-Go program. The Tow-to-Go program in Georgia offers free tows for a vehicle and a ride for only the driver for up to ten miles from 6:00 p.m. Friday, December 24, 2021 through 6:00 a.m. on Monday, January 3, 2022. More information can be found at 855-2-TOW-2-GO or 855-286-9246.
GOHS also offers the following tips for having save travels on Georgia roads during the holidays:
- Plan ahead with a designated driver. Don't wait until you've already started drinking.
- If you find yourself suddenly in need of a sober ride home, call a sober friend, taxi or rideshare service
- If you're having a few family members or friends over to celebrate, be sure to have non-alcoholic drinks available for designated drivers and offer guests the option of staying over if they appear to be too impaired to drive.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1, *GSP or your local law enforcement agency.
Media outlets can find video highlights from the 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' kickoff at the this LINK
"Our message is today is simple do not get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you have been drinking or taking medication that impairs your ability to drive. One drunk driving is one too many because all drunk driving deaths are caused by someone who makes the selfish decision to get behind the wheel of a vehicle when they are impaired."
Captain Brandon Dawson- Georgia State Patrol
"Just as recent as two weekends ago, some of our media partners that are here today and others that are not here reported on a tragic accident in Coweta County. We had a selfish driver who decided to drive impaired on Highway 41 in Coweta County.. He crossed the center line. The first car he met he sideswipped them. The second car that was behind that first car he met he hit head on. The tragedy in this case is that a two year old was in the car that was struck head on and that two year old lost her life. The mother, who was a a passenger in that car, was seriously injured and is going to have deal with those injuries for the rest of her life. Let us talk about the emotional impact, the emotional impact of the family. I noticed the media reported on that. How the family was felling and what was going on in their lives. It was absolutely terrible. It was a tragedy and it was preventable. The peace officers behind me, they see it. They see it all the time. As Director Poole said, they are the ones delivering that message to the family. To deliver that terrible message, devastating news. Probably the worst news they will receive in their entire life. It is on the shoulders of these folks behind me and the ones working day in and day out. The deaths and injuries are 100 percent preventable if you just make the right decision. How can you help us? we can only do so much. We can visible and be a deterrence. We can enforce the laws and as we enforce those laws, we can deter people's driving habits. What can you do personally to help us? The first thing you can do is obey the speed limit. Slow down. Don't be an aggressive driver. Don't be a reckless driver. Put on your seat belt for us . Encourage your passengers to put on your seat belt. Your children that are with you make sure they are in a appropriate child restraint. We all one of these (phone). Put it down. Don't be a distracted driver. Put your focus on the road as you are driving down the road. Whatever you do, for what this campaign is for, drive sober. Make good decisions. Don't drink and drive. Don't ingest anything that is going to impair your ability to operate your motor vehicle as you are supposed to."
Garrett Townsend - AAA Georgia Public Affairs Director
"25,000 people have been taken off the road and perhaps because they have made decision to call AAA Tow-to-Go they have perhaps saved their life and the lives of other motorists that are on the road. But we would happy, we would be happy if that number was zero. Why do we say that? Because that person would have made the decision before they decided to go out to a party, to a gathering. If they have had made a decision to have a designated sober driver or to have a rideshare service designated. We would be happy if they did that. Really that is the purpose of the AAA Tow-To-Go program. To provide another safe alternative to get home or to your destination. It is really not designed to be your first alternative. It is not designed for you to say 'hey I am going out and party tonight and I am going to call AAA to get me home.'"