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Letters to the Editor - Aug. 11, 2008

Zero tolerance means zero tolerance

No warnings and excuses this Labor Day

To the editor:

As Georgians begin making their vacation plans for the upcoming Labor Day festivities, please remember there are two activities that never mix well on our holiday social calendar: Drinking and Driving.

Combining them behind the wheel creates a deadly combination on our highways. Now, one out of every three of the 1,700-plus fatal crashes in Georgia every year involves an impaired driver!

So this week, law enforcement agencies across the country will kick off the summer DUI enforcement campaign called Operation Zero Tolerance. OZT means you never receive just a warning or citation.

If you're caught driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at or over the illegal limit of 0.08, you will be arrested. In Georgia, if you're Over the Limit, you're Under Arrest. First time violators go to jail.

Why 0.08? That's the BAC where the risk of a fatal crash increases dramatically. It's at 0.08 where critical driving skills, like braking, steering, lane changing, depth perception, judgment and response time are acutely affected. Those are the very skills your life depends on-and the lives of everyone on the road around you.

The survival mathematics of drunk driving is even more sobering. Statistics show you're 11 times more likely to die in a crash with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, than if you're in the same crash with no alcohol in your system at all.

Yet, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, more than 1.3 million people across the country were arrested for driving under the influence in 2005.

That's why all 50 states now agree to uniformly enforce the BAC limit at 0.08 everywhere you drive in this country. So, no matter what route you take for your Labor Day travel plans, if a sobriety roadcheck or concentrated patrol finds you driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will be charged with DUI.

But avoiding the costly repercussions of a drunk-driving arrest is easy. Just remember the goal of Operation Zero Tolerance is to bring public awareness to the deadly consequences of drunk driving, so motorists will drive unimpaired.

Designating a sober driver and never letting a friend drive drunk are just two simple ways to avoid an impaired driving crash or arrest.

And here are more tips that can help keep our roads safe, and keep you safer 365 days a year: Planning ahead by designating a sober driver before going out; calling a taxi or using mass transit; calling a sober friend or family member to get you safely home; not allowing alcohol to be opened or consumed in your vehicle; obeying all traffic laws and resisting influences to take risks; and driving the speed limit, and reporting impaired drivers to the nearest law enforcement agency by calling 9-1-1.

And as we celebrate the last holiday of summer, let's remember that the best way to protect your family against an encounter with a drunk driver is to wear your seatbelt and make sure your passengers always do the same.

And remember: Buckle-Up. Slow Down. Drive Sober.

BOB DALLAS, Director

Georgia Governor's Office

of Highway Safety