(WTVM) - Georgia is joining the national crackdown to reduce the number of DUI fatalities.
If you drink and drive anywhere in Georgia, be aware that law enforcement in every corner of the state are joining agencies throughout the nation for this year's Labor Day campaign of "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over."
The campaign begins Friday, August 17 and will last through Monday, September 3. In Georgia, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) will be launching a zero tolerance campaign against impaired driving.
This means that if you mark the end of summer with booze and a barbecue, you'll be lamenting more than the start of a new school year if you get behind the wheel. No matter where you drive in Georgia, if you're over the limit, you'll be under arrest.
The statewide impaired-driving crackdown will include a high-visibility enforcement campaign to curb alcohol-impaired driving in August and through the Labor Day holiday weekend, which begins at 6 p.m. on Sept. 3 and continues until 5:59 a.m. on Sept. 7.
Why the focus on drunk drivers? Despite all 50 states outlawing driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more, 2010 still saw more than 10,000 people die in crashes involving an impaired driver.
Here in Georgia, we experienced 298 alcohol-related fatalities on our roads in 2010, which represents one-quarter of all traffic deaths.
GOHS Director Harris Blackwood said police officers, deputies and state troopers all over the state will be aggressively looking for impaired drivers during the crackdown and will not hesitate to arrest anyone caught driving impaired. There will be no warnings and no excuses.
"On average, there is one alcohol-related traffic death every 51 minutes in this country," said Director Blackwood. "Here in Georgia, we're trying to reduce this tragic loss of life by getting impaired drivers off our roads. We know campaigns like this help reduce drunk-driving crashes by as much as 20 percent, so we're using Labor Day to reinforce the zero tolerance policy that exists in Georgia 365 days a year."
Across the country in 2010, 147 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes during the Labor Day weekend. We also know that many of those killed were young drunk drivers getting behind the wheel at night.
Of the 147 deaths, 80 percent happened between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Among 18-to-34-year-olds killed during that weekend, 54 percent were alcohol-impaired.
"We want to remind everyone that it is illegal to drive impaired and we hope this campaign will reinforce the message to never get behind the wheel if you've been drinking," said Director Blackwood. "Those who choose to break the law can face jail time, loss of their license and steep financial consequences. It's simply not worth the risk."
For more information on the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at www.nhtsa.gov/drivesober.
For more information on Georgia's efforts to combat impaired driving, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org.