Georgia deputies and state troopers have begun their holiday campaign of zero tolerance for drinking and driving.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety began Friday and will continue through Jan. 2.
Although Christmas isn’t a huge drinking and driving holiday, New Year’s Eve is a different animal, said Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Randy Prickett. He lists New Year’s Eve and July Fourth as the two main DUI holidays.
“They go back and forth (in the number of arrests) depending on when it falls,” Prickett said.
This year with New Year’s Eve falling on a Saturday, he knows it could present a problem.
Christmas, however, isn’t high on the chart of DUI holidays. People don’t generally do all their drinking on Christmas Day, Prickett said.
The DUIs are “more spread out because of the parties are going on throughout the month,” he said, adding that the continual parties and New Year’s Eve cause December’s DUI numbers to be higher than most months.
Cpl. Christopher Wright, the assistant post commander of the Georgia State Patrol in Grovetown, said he sees more people making arrangements before they begin their celebrations.
“But we’ve still got those few who cause a problem,” he said. “We’ve still got the heightened awareness out there because it reinforces to people that you need to make plans ahead of time.”
In 2010, Georgia saw an 11 percent decrease in impaired driving fatalities, according to a news release by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. During the campaign, anyone caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher will immediately be arrested and go to jail.
Spokesmen for the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety said that although this is the policy year-round, the holiday period is used as a time to remind drivers of the dangers.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly one-third of fatalities in traffic crashes involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit.
Wright said DUIs over the Christmas holidays usually are on two-lane roads where locals are traveling short distances to and from friend’s homes.
“We don’t see as much on the interstate,” he said.