By Johnny Jackson
Law enforcement officers across Georgia are gearing up for this Labor Day weekend with a common goal in mind - to save lives and prevent car crashes and related injuries.
"We are coming up on the last week of Operation Zero Tolerance," said Henry County Police Captain Jason Bolton.
Operation Zero Tolerance is Georgia's high visibility DUI enforcement program, implemented on high-traffic-volume holidays, like Labor Day weekend. In Georgia, if a person is caught driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration at or above the illegal limit of 0.08, they will be arrested and jailed.
"There will be a large police presence consisting of roving patrols and roadblocks through Labor Day," Bolton said. "These officers will be attempting to locate drivers under the influence of alcohol."
This week, law enforcement agencies in the state are teaming up to crack down on unsafe drivers with similar programs as Operation Zero Tolerance, such as the state's 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. Program, and its annual Hands Across the Border Program.
The Georgia State Patrol and members of the Department of Public Safety's Motor Carrier Compliance Division are joining their law enforcement counterparts in neighboring states to encourage safe travel during the upcoming holiday travel period.
"This is an excellent way for law enforcement officers to show their support for safe travel, especially with one of the heavier-traveled holiday periods rapidly approaching," said Col. Bill Hitchens, Georgia State Patrol commander.
Georgia State Troopers and officers from the division will join other law enforcement officers for the 17th Annual Hands Across the Border. Hands Across the Border is geared toward cracking down on highway safety and educating the public on safe driving. The program's safety-education events have been planned for the entire week leading up to Labor Day weekend.
Throughout the week, however, border patrols will be stationed at major thoroughfares which pass through bordering states along busy roadways. The state will host various highway-safety-education events as well: on Interstate 20 in Augusta; along U.S. 441 at the North Carolina state line and into Tallahassee, Fla., on Wednesday; along I-75 into Lake Park and at the Tennessee Welcome Center, on Thursday; along I-95 at the Florida Welcome Center and I-20 at the Alabama state line, on Friday.
The night before each Hands Across the Border event, law enforcement officers will be conducting sobriety checkpoints as part of Operation Zero Tolerance.
"The focus of the events will be to encourage motorists to slow down, buckle up, and don't drink and drive during their holiday travels," Hitchens added.
"Each year these events are a valuable resource for troopers, police officers, and sheriffs' deputies to exchange safety ideas while meeting motorists one-on-one, all with a goal of saving lives."
According to the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, one out of every three of the more than 1,700 fatal crashes in Georgia every year has involved an impaired driver.
"This week-long effort erases any confusion about the long arm of the law extending past state lines," said Director Bob Dallas of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.
"Our counterparts in other states," he added, "may wear different uniforms and follow separate traffic laws, but across the Southeast, the men and women of law enforcement share a common goal of ridding our roadways of drunk drivers. And that's what Hands Across The Border is all about.
"Georgia motorists should expect to see a lot of patrol activity concentrated on our interstates and major highways where they cross state lines,and there will be more sobriety road-checks - day and night - looking for impaired drivers," Dallas said. "From Aug. 24-29, Hands Across The Border becomes a clear warning to travelers that no matter what direction they're going, law enforcement in every adjacent state will be mobilized to take dangerous drivers off the road."
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