December is “Drunk and Drugged Driver Awareness Month” and the Georgia State Patrol will be conducting roadchecks across the state throughout the month.  The enforcement effort will be concentrating on intercepting impaired drivers on the roads before they can cause a traffic crash.

Colonel Bill Hitchens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said holiday parties where alcohol is served can increase the number of impaired drivers on the state’s roads.  “Troopers will be keeping a close watch for suspected impaired drivers on every patrol,” Colonel Hitchens said.  “Impaired driving is a danger 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.” 

Colonel Hitchens said impaired driving remains one of America’s deadliest crimes.  Across the country last December, 873 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.

Georgia State Troopers and officers with the DPS Motor Carrier Compliance Division have arrested 13,599 people for impaired driving between January 1 and November 20 of this year.  Last year between Thanksgiving and the end of the New Year’s holiday period, troopers and officers arrested 1,841 people for DUI.

Colonel Hitchens called on party hosts to remind party-goers to designate a sober driver before the party begins and to give that person the keys.  He said when organizing holiday parties, careful planning and observation can greatly reduce the number of impaired drivers on the highways.  If someone is impaired, call a taxi, a sober friend, or family member to come and get them home safely,” 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 your attorney’s fees, court costs, towing expenses, and lost time,” Colonel 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 travel period begins Thursday, December 23 at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Sunday, December 26.  The New Year’s holiday travel period is also a 78-hour period that  begins Thursday, December 30 at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Sunday, January 2, 2011.