Georgia law enforcement officers will be working during the holiday to take drunk drivers off the road

The Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement are reminding everyone to drive sober so they want have to pull you over during the July 4th holiday weekend.

Law enforcement officers in the state ask everyone planning to celebrate the holiday with alcohol to plan ahead for a ride with a sober driver because Georgia maintains a year-round zero tolerance policy for drunk and drugged driving.

"This is your warning if you make the mistake of getting behind the wheel after drinking," Governor's Office of Highway Safety Director Allen Poole said. "It is too late to ask for a warning if you are found to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You will be arrested and you will be taken to jail. No exceptions."

The National High Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that 237 people died in alcohol-related crashes in the United States during the 108-hour July 4th holiday period in 2017, which is a 23 percent increase from the same time period in 2016. Almost 80 percent of those alcohol-related fatal traffic crashes during the July 4th holiday period in 2017 happened at night.

In Georgia, 21 people were killed in 4,520 traffic crashes from July 3-7 in 2018, while impairment was suspected of being a factor in four of those deaths. According to NHTSA, alcohol was a factor in nearly one out of every four traffic deaths in Georgia in 2017.

With July 4th falling on a Thursday this year, many Georgians are expected to be on the road looking forward to a long holiday weekend. The extra traffic on the road means the Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies will be increasing patrols on interstates and other major highways.

"Whether it is designating a driver or arranging a ride in advance with a friend, ride service or cab, planning ahead not only saves lives, but allows you to enjoy your outing without the worry about how you are getting home," Poole said. "Don't wait until you get to your celebration because the effects of alcohol can many times lead to people making the wrong decision, and it is never a good decision to drive after drinking."

Drivers needing a sober ride can find one by downloading NHTSA's free SaferRide app from Apple ITunes or Google Play. The app will allow users to call a cab or friend and identifies the location where the user can be picked up.

AAA's Tow-To-Go will also be offering free rides and tows up to 10 miles anywhere in Georgia from Wednesday, July 3 until 6:00 a.m. on Friday, July 5. Persons needing a ride can call 855-286-9246. You can find more information on AAA Tow-To-Go Guidelines.

Here are some other important safety reminders for those who will be traveling during the July 4th holiday weekend:

•Allow more time to reach your destination due to the higher traffic volume on the road.

•Don't try to make up time on the road by speeding. You will not get there any faster.

•Make sure you and everyone in your vehicle is wearing their seatbelt and all children under 8 are in a correctly installed child passenger safety seat or booster seat.

•Keep your attention on the road. Georgia is a hands-free state so put down your phones while driving.

•Take breaks as needed and if possible alternate drivers.

For more information, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org. You can also follow GOHS at facebook.com/gahighwaysafety and at gohsgeorgia on Twitter and Instagram.