(ATLANTA)— For many Southern vacation travelers the July 4th holiday signals a downhill race toward the end of summer.  While for Georgia traffic enforcement officers the holiday marks the midway point in the season’s uphill battle against impaired driving. Police know highway safety statistics show the busy travel period between July Fourth and Labor Day can be one of the most dangerous times of the year on our roads. In Georgia, Operation Zero Tolerance (OZT) is in effect “24-7-365”.  But special enforcement waves are also mobilized to target these travel periods when impaired driving and summer holiday traffic volumes are historically the highest on Georgia’s roadways.  Operation Zero Tolerance campaigns enforce Georgia’s “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” DUI-arrest policy for drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .08.  No warning tickets. No exceptions.  Drunk drivers go to jail.     Unfortunately, the July Fourth celebration is overshadowed here by some sobering stats. In Georgia, where alcohol is involved in 1-out-of-5 crashes, almost half of the 14 traffic deaths during the 2007 July Fourth travel period involved at least one drunk driver! “Driving while impaired just isn’t worth this incredible risk,” says Director Bob Dallas of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS). “Regardless of age or level of driving experience, drivers who consume too many spirits while getting into the holiday spirit must find a safe and sober ride home. If not, Operation Zero Tolerance has significantly increased their chances of arrest in Georgia, while their excessive alcohol consumption has significantly decreased their chances of survival anywhere they drive.”   It’s a fact.  Statistics show drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher are eleven times more likely to die in a crash than if they’re involved in that same crash with no alcohol in their system at all. Yet millions of people nationwide are still arrested for DUI every year. That’s why all 50 states now uniformly enforce the .08 BAC limit because it’s the line where critical driving skills like braking, steering, lane changing, depth perception, judgment and response time are all dramatically affected.  These are the very skills needed to keep everyone safe on our roads and the reason why .08 BAC is where the risk of a fatal crash increases drastically.    So each Summer holiday season the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety coordinates with more than 500 Georgia police departments, sheriff’s offices and state patrol posts statewide to run concentrated patrols on our interstates and to set up sobriety checkpoints on our roadways.  Safe drivers go on their way, but impaired drivers go to jail.  “So while everyone else is watching out for the colorful lights in the sky during the Fourth of July fireworks, anyone who drives drunk will also need to watch out for the blue lights in their rearview mirror on the way home, because that’s what they’re going to see this summer,” says GOHS Director Bob Dallas. Georgia’s July Fourth OZT holiday enforcement crackdown is scheduled to begin Friday, June 19th, and runs through Sunday, July 5th, 2009. The 78-hour July Fourth travel period will begin at 6PM on Thursday, July 2nd and end at midnight on Sunday, July 5th.   “If you plan to party this July Fourth, remember there are so many simple ways to prevent tragedy,” says GOHS Director Bob Dallas. “Arrange for a sober driver, store taxi cab company numbers in your cell phone, or take mass transit. If you’re the designated driver, you too can help by reminding passengers about open container laws and not allowing alcohol to be consumed in your car, by obeying all traffic laws, and by making sure you and your passengers always buckle your seatbelts.” The Summer holiday OZT campaign is also part of the GOHS 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. initiative that also runs through the end of the Labor Day travel period in September. Traffic enforcement officers will be patrolling roadways all summer during Summer H.E.A.T. to raise driver awareness about the deadly consequences of speed, impaired driving, and the failure to use safety belts and child restraints. “So take a stand and declare your independence from drunk driving this July Fourth,” says GOHS Director Dallas. “Know your limits, be responsible and be prepared to call 9-1-1 if you see an impaired driver endangering other lives on the road.” Remember, impaired driving is no accident or victimless crime. In 2007, 34-percent of all drivers involved in traffic crashes during the July Fourth travel period had a BAC of .08 or higher.  The message is simple. If you drive impaired in Georgia, you will go to jail. And If you’re Over the Limit, you’ll be Under Arrest. For more information about Operation Zero Tolerance and the 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. campaign, visit the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety at www.gahighwaysafety.org