Operation Zero Tolerance

Campaign launched leading to Fourth of July

by Wes Mayer

The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has launched its summer Operation Zero Tolerance campaign to crack down on drunk driving leading up to and during the Fourth of July holiday.

“This July 4th holiday, you can show your patriotism by helping to make Georgia’s roads safer for everyone by driving sober or making sure you have a sober ride home,” said GOHS Director Harris Blackwood in a prepared statement. “Drunk driving is a zero tolerance offense. No warnings. You will be arrested and you will go to jail. We repeat this message every year because it’s true.”

According to the governor’s office, for the campaign which began June 20, the state law enforcement officers will be aggressively targeting impaired drivers who are putting others’ lives in danger.

“We are going to make all the efforts we can to cut down on drunk driving and have as much influence and contact with the public as we can,” said Sgt. Mike Searcy with the Georgia State Patrol Newnan Post.

The statewide campaign is in effect until the end of the Fourth of July travel period – including the 78 hours between July 3 and July 6, according to the Governor’s Office. During this travel period in 2012, 179 people were killed in car crashes across the U.S. Of these crashes, 44 percent involved a driver impaired by alcohol, and 28 percent involved a driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or higher. More than a third of fatal crashes involving impaired drivers occurred at night.

“Throughout the years, we have worked really well with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety’s initiatives,” said Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager, “and we really do that throughout the year with DUIs. In the summer, there seems to be more of a tendency for people to drink, and we ask if they do indulge in that, they have a designated driver, make other arrangements and don’t get behind the wheel of a car.”

The rates of fatal traffic accidents during the Fourth of July travel period did decrease slightly between 2012 and 2013, according to the Governor’s Office, but the rates are still high. In 2012, there were six fatalities over a 30-hour travel period – 20 percent – and in 2013, there were 20 fatalities over a 102-hour period – 19.6 percent.

According to the governor’s office, Operation Zero Tolerance will continue until those numbers reach zero.

“We’ve always had zero tolerance, and we’ll continue to be strict with our enforcement of DUIs,” said Newnan Police Chief Douglas “Buster” Meadows. “We will keep enforcing year-round.”



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