While the state of Georgia’s zero tolerance policy on drinking and driving is strictly enforced throughout the year, state and local law enforcement agencies typically ramp up their presence during the holiday sea-son to get the message across that motorists caught with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more will be arrested and will go to jail.
“The message is short and sweet,” said the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) director Harris Blackwood. “Drive sober or you’ll get pulled over. Drinking alcohol and driving is no present for anyone so if you plan to consume alcohol, you better plan for a sober driver to get you home safely. Don’t let your holiday season end in arrest, or worse, death.”
A study done by Texas A&M University’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Education Studies showed that even a small amount of alcohol — as few as one or two beers — could seriously affect judgment and driving decisions. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Preven-tion, drivers with a BAC of just 0.02 percent (one or two beers) are already experiencing loss of judgment and a decline in visual function. By the time a driver reaches a 0.08 BAC, muscle co-ordination has become poor, judgment, self control, reasoning and memory are impaired and they are 11 times more likely to have a single vehicle accident than a non-drinking driver.
Assistant Chief Brian Harris, commander of the DeKalb County Police Department Special Op-erations Division said his units S.T.A.R. Team, which specializes in DUI enforcement, aggressive driving, speeding and occupant protection laws began an increased push on traffic enforcement in the county Nov. 1 which included a hike in the number of safety checks on streets county wide.
“What we do is look at all the previous accidents during the year, our highest incidents of drunken driving, the highest incidents of vehicular fatalities and injuries and we concentrate on those areas,” Harris said. “We are looking for another safe holiday season.” Harris said the penalties are harsh; once you get a DUI, it’s going to be something that will follow you, with thousands in legal fees and fines.
“Quite honestly at 0.08 you’re talking maybe 1 or 2 beers depending on your size, what you’ve eaten and other factors. Theoretically one drink can get you a DUI charge. It’s just an awful lot for one beer, if you think about it a taxi ride is much cheaper, plus what you would do to some other innocent citizen is a real travesty, someone could lose their life because you didn’t want to take the time to exer-cise some good judgment.”
You can get easy access to local cab companies and sober driving services by downloading the Governors Office of Highway Safety’s free Drive Sober, Georgia app for your cellphone.
–Story by Dean Hesse