Police watching holiday traffic

ALBANY -- You drink. You drive. You spend the night in jail.

No matter if it is a state or local officer, the message is the same. Drinking and driving will not be tolerated, especially at the holiday season.

"We pay special attention and vigilance during the holiday season," said Dougherty County Police Department Lt. Tom Jackson. "We know there will be more people in the holidays who drink. You have a .08 (Blood Alcohol Content) or better, you will go to jail."

The Albany Police Department, Dougherty County Sheriff's Office and Lee County Sheriff's Office spokesmen all joined in saying they will be out watching the roads with extra care this holiday season.

"We'll be out in force this holiday season," said Dougherty Sheriff's Office Capt. Craig Dodd. "We know people take off Tuesday and Wednesday through the holiday this year. We'll keep up our extra vigilance until after the New Year."

Even though there is a 4.7 percent projected drop in holiday travel this year, American Automobile Association expects there to be 2.63 million drivers who will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday in Georgia, said Garrett Townsend, of the club's Atlanta office.

Last year, 24 people died during the Christmas travel period, according to a Governor's Office of Highway Safety e-mail. During the course of the same year, 7,814 alcohol crashes involved alcohol.

"The sad fact is that one out of three fatal highway crashes each year is caused by impaired drivers," the e-mail continued.

"Last year, 888 people were killed (nationally) in crashes involving a driver with a BAC of .08 or above," stated Bob Dallas, director Governor's Office of Highway Safety. "The math is too deadly to ignore."

In order to help avoid highway tragedy for drivers, passengers and pedestrians, Dallas' office started "Operation Zero Tolerance."

The increased patrols by Georgia State Patrol and other law enforcement organizations, began Friday and will continue until Jan. 3.

"We know we can count on our dedicated enforcement partners to run their concentrated patrols and sobriety checkpoints to protect millions of innocent motorists," Dallas said. "Georgia's high visibility enforcement efforts are crucial to reduce impaired driving crashes and drunken driving deaths."