With the holiday season in full swing, large gatherings of people at parties are a given. Long County law-enforcement officers are warning merrymakers to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages and sliding behind the wheel of a car.
Sheriff Craig Nobles and Ludowici Police Chief James Rogers said their departments will crack down on anyone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs throughout December and January.
“My deputies are on the roads doing extra patrols, looking for anyone who might be driving under the influence. People are being forewarned not to drink and drive,” Nobles said.
Rogers added that his officers will conduct several roadside stops during the holidays, and they will enforce the seat-belt law.
“We’re going to beef things up over December and January and do whatever is necessary to keep drunk drivers off the roads. We’re also going to be looking for people who aren’t wearing seat belts, and (we’ll) be giving out citations to those violators,” Rogers said.
Capt. Luther Hires, coordinator for Coastal Area Traffic Enforcement Network, said December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. So far this year, there have been 1,034 traffic fatalities in Georgia, and 17 percent of those were alcohol-related, according to Hires. He said that even though alcohol-related crashes draw the most attention, drug-related wrecks are on the rise.
In 2009, there 3,952 drivers who tested positive for drugs were killed in the United States. Hires said that even drugs prescribed by a doctor can impair perception, judgment, motor skills and memory.
He added that there are many myths about drinking and driving, and people need to know the facts. Many people believe that drinking coffee will have a sobering affect, and that hard liquor is more intoxicating than beer or wine. Hires said both beliefs are false. A person can become just as drunk off beer or wine as they can off hard liquor. And the only way to sober up is to stop drinking and wait. It takes about one hour to oxidize every drink consumed by the average person, according to Hires. The CATEN captain said that if a person has been drinking, they should never operate a vehicle — designated drivers are a necessity.
Nobles said motorists often report seeing other drivers who appear to be impaired either by alcohol or drugs. He said that anyone who spots a person driving erratically should call 911.
“If you see someone, who you think may be a drunk driver, gather good information like the license plate, the type of vehicle, its color, the road and the location that they are driving in. Then pull over and call 911 so that a deputy can get out there to check it out,” Nobles said.
The sheriff, Rogers and Hires all said that the holiday season should be a joyous occasion for all, and they plan to do all that they can to ensure it also is a safe time.