Hitchens said December is “Drunk and Drugged Driver Awareness Month” as holiday parties can increase the number of impaired drivers on the state’s roads. “Impaired driving is not confined to summer nights, but rather a danger around the clock, 365 days a year,” Hitchens said. “Troopers and MCCD officers are keeping a close watch for suspected impaired drivers on every patrol.” Last year, troopers arrested 1,116 people on charges of driving under the influence between December 1, 2008 and Jan. 4.
The Commissioner noted that impaired driving remains one of America’s deadliest crimes. Across the country in 2008, 11,773 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. “Driving with a BAC of .08 or higher is illegal in every state,” he said.
Hitchens said when organizing holiday parties, careful planning and observation can greatly reduce the number of impaired drivers on the highways. He called on party hosts to remind party-goers to designate a sober driver before the party begins and to give that person the keys. “If someone is impaired, call them a taxi, a sober friend, or family member,” he said.
Motorists are reminded that the results from drinking and driving can end up costly no matter how many drinks you’ve had. “Violators often face jail time, higher insurance rates, and other unanticipated expenses, such as attorney’s fees, court costs, towing expenses, and lost time,” Hitchens added.
The Georgia State Patrol cautions:
- Don’t ever get behind the wheel of a vehicle when you are impaired;
- Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
- Designate a sober driver in advance and leave your keys at home;
- Wear your seat belt while in a car or use a helmet and protective gear when on a motorcycle as these are your best defenses against an impaired driver.
The Christmas holiday traffic count begins Thursday, December 24 at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Sunday, Dec. 27. The New Year’s holiday travel period is also 78 hours long and begins Thursday, December 31 at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010.