Georgia law enforcement step up patrols during holiday season

With fewer cars on the road during the pandemic, one would expect there to be a big drop in the number of traffic fatalities on Georgia roadways. Law enforcement officials said that's not the case.

According to Roger Hayes, Director of Law Enforcement Services for the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety, "As of Monday, there was 1,434 fatalities so far this year in the state of Georgia, that's up 2% from where we were at last year at this time."

Two of those victims were law enforcement officers who were killed in the line-of-duty by suspected drunk drivers.

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Captain Stan Elrod, a 28-year veteran of Georgia's Department of Natural Resources, was hit and killed while training near his home in Danielsville in September.

"This world lost a great man on that Thursday night in September. We will miss him this holiday season just as families across the state will miss their loved ones who were killed by impaired drivers," said DNR Col. Thomas Barnard.

Smyrna Police Officer Christopher Ewing died in April when his patrol car was hit by a suspected drunk driver.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Safety, GSP troopers and other state law enforcement officers have arrested nearly 13,000 impaired drivers across Georgia so far this year. GSP Lt. Colonel Stephanie Stallings said, "This number doesn't include all those arrested by sheriff's deputies in our 159 counties and police officers from over 160 police departments across the state."

GOHS is working with the Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies statewide to crack down on drunk drivers and other violators during the holiday season.

Law enforcement will be out in force patrolling and conducting sobriety checkpoints. They urge the public not to drink and drive, to use a ride service or a designated driver. Col. Barnard said all drunk driving deaths are preventable.

"Nothing positive comes from driving while impaired. It is a selfish act that often leads to death and destruction."

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