(ATLANTA) The Governor's Office of Highway Safety, state and local law enforcement, Georgia Association of Broadcasters, AAA Georgia and MADD Georgia are asking everyone to put the brakes on drunk driving deaths by choosing to never drink and drive. Those who make the wrong choice to drive over the legal Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit in Georgia of .08 could find themselves sitting in a jail cell during the holidays.
With both the Christmas and New Year holidays falling on the weekend this year, state troopers, GOHS Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (H.E.A.T.) units, GOHS Regional Traffic Enforcement Networks and local law enforcement agencies will be looking to take all drunk and drugged drivers they find to jail. State law enforcement officers do not give warnings for DUIs and do not allow drunk drivers to call someone to drive them home.
"If everyone could see what law enforcement officers see investigating a drunk driving crash, no one would ever choose to drive under the influence again," Allen Poole, Director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety said. "State and local officers do not want to arrest anyone for DUI but they do so because every drunk driver they take off the road is potentially one less family they have to notify that a loved one has been killed by a drunk driver."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one person was killed in a drunk driving crash every 45 minutes in the United States in 2020 and approximately one out of three fatal traffic crashes in the United States in 2020 involved a drunk driver. Almost half of the drunk driving crashes that happened at night in the United States in December of 2020 years ago occurred between midnight and 3:00 a.m., when many people were driving home from bars or private parties.
In Georgia, one out of every four traffic crashes in 2020 was alcohol-related but that number rose to one out of three during the Christmas/New Year's holidays during a five-year span from 2016 to 2020. Seven out of ten fatal traffic crashes in the state during the Christmas/New Year's holiday period involved a driver whose BAC was twice the legal limit in Georgia.
NHTSA estimates that the average DUI arrest costs up to $10,000 in fines, court fees, attorney fees, and higher insurance premiums. A DUI conviction could cost someone their job or prevent someone from being hired for a position that would require them to drive.
"Whether it is a crash or a DUI arrest, the only thing drunk driving does is ruin lives," Poole said. "The message is very simple. If you are planning to drink, then do not plan to drive and make a plan in advance for a ride with a sober friend, cab, or ride service."
Those in Georgia who do not plan in advance for a sober ride can call AAA's 'Tow-To-Go" service during the Christmas holiday season. AAA will offer a free tow and ride for only the driver up to ten miles from 6:00 p.m. on Friday, December 23rd through 6:00 a.m. on Monday, January 2nd. AAA also reminds everyone they do not take reservations for their "Tow-To-Go" service as it is designed as a safety net and encourage everyone to have a designated driver or sober ride arranged before the celebration begins.
The Governor's Office of Highway Safety, state and local law enforcement officers and NHTSA also offer the following holiday safety advice:
- Plan ahead: If you wait until you’ve been drinking to make a smart decision, you might not. Before you have one drink, designate a sober driver who won’t be drinking.
- You have options: designate a sober driver, call a taxi, or use a rideshare service. Getting home safely is always worth it.
- If it’s your turn to be the designated driver, take your job seriously and don’t drink.
- Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and let a sober driver get your friend home safely.
- Always wear a seat belt. Seat belts offer the best protection in the vehicle in the event of a crash