Ga., S.C. troopers launch holiday drunken-driving crackdown

Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 1:42 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia and South Carolina state troopers and local law enforcement officers are stepping up traffic enforcement during the Christmas/New Year’s holiday season and will take any drunk or drugged driver they find to jail.

The increased enforcement effort is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” mobilization, which runs from Dec. 15 through Jan. 2.

According to federal statistics, one out of three traffic deaths in the United States involve a driver with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 percent or higher.

Georgia and South Carolina law enforcement officers and highway safety advocates are urging anyone planning to include alcohol in their celebration to include a plan for a ride with a sober driver, cab or rideshare.

South Carolina is on track for the deadliest year on record for roadways. The state passed the 1,000 mark in deaths related to car crashes at the start of December.

“One highway fatality is affecting many, many people,” said South Carolina Highway Patrol Lt. Col. Travis Manley said. “So that number being 1,049 deaths, you’re talking about thousands and thousands of people that are affected as a result of one highway fatality.”

Authorities will conduct public safety checkpoints during the New Year’s holiday period.

“These are all choices that are being made,” Manley said. “I would say almost a hundred percent of these fatalities are happening as a result of a choice someone made, a poor decision on roadways to take a chance they should not have taken.”

By the numbers

  • According to the Georgia State Patrol, 33 people were killed in crashes during the 78-hour Christmas and 78-hour New Year’s holiday travel periods in 2020. Twenty people were killed in crashes from 6 p.m. Dec. 24, 2020, to 11:59 p.m. through Dec. 27, 2020, and 13 people were killed in crashes from 6 p.m. Dec. 31, 2020, through 11:59 p.m. Jan. 3, 2021.
  • Federal statistics show 83 people have died in crashes in Georgia involving a driver whose blood alcohol concentration was over the legal limit during the final 15 days of December from 2015-2019, and 59 of those people died in crashes involving a driver whose alcohol level was twice the legal limit.
  • While alcohol was a factor in approximately one out of four traffic deaths in Georgia each year, half of the traffic deaths that have happened in Georgia from 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to 6 a.m. on New Year’s morning from 2015-2019 involved a driver whose blood alcohol level was over the legal limit.
  • Twenty people have died in traffic crashes over the 12-hour period from New Year’s Eve night to New Year’s Eve morning from 2015 to 2019, and 10 of those died in crashes involving a driver whose blood alcohol level was above the legal limit.
  • In South Carolina, the top three primary contributing factors in crashes in 2021, according to preliminary statistics, were driving too fast for conditions, driver under the influence, and failure to yield.

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