July 4 crackdown on drunken driving begins

Law enforcement officers across the state are cracking down on drunken driving in preparation for what is often one of the deadliest holidays of the year.

 

Operation Zero Tolerance began Friday in Georgia and will run throughout the July Fourth travel period.

“The Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays due to an increase in impaired driving fatalities,” said Harris Blackwood, the director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

Officers will increase patrols and conduct sobriety checkpoints to prevent accidents.

In 2010, there were 298 alcohol-related fatalities in Georgia. The number of alcohol-related crashes for the Fourth of July period was not available.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 392 people died across the country during the July 4, 2010, travel period. Of those deaths, 39 percent involved at least one driver with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.

Nearly half of impaired drivers in 2010 were between the ages of 18 and 34.

Though no fatalities connected to drunken driving were recorded for July 2010 in Augusta, the month did have the most DUIs for the year at 148. At least 30 of the incidents resulted in an accident.

The number of DUIs for July 2011 was not as high as the previous year. It tied with December as the fourth-highest month with 120 recorded incidents; however, it had the highest number of DUI-related accidents for the year. About 40 were recorded.

Alcohol-related accidents seem to be more prevalent around the July Fourth holiday, said Richmond County sheriff’s Cpl. Bill Adams.

This year the holiday falls in the middle of the week, but Adams said he doesn’t expect that to affect the number of drunken-driving incidents.

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