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Police get early start on DUI crackdown

LAWRENCEVILLE - Independence Day is nearly two weeks away, but law enforcement is already on the lookout for those who decide to party and get behind the wheel.

Every summer, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety partners with more than 500 local and state agencies and patrol posts to set up sobriety checkpoints and run concentrated patrols.

Operation Zero Tolerance includes a DUI task force from the Metro Atlanta Traffic Enforcement Network, composed of traffic enforcement agencies from DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb, Fayette, Clayton, Henry and Gwinnett counties.

The network kicked off the holiday enforcement Friday night with a sobriety checkpoint near the Fulton and Clayton County line.

The OZT campaign will end at midnight on July 5, but is part of the 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. initiative, which runs through the end of the Labor Day travel period in September.

According to crash data provided by the GOHS, only New Year's is more dangerous for motorists than the Fourth of July weekend. Twenty percent of Georgia's fatal crashes are alcohol-related, they say, and even one death is too many for a crime that is 100 percent preventable.

"Driving impaired just isn't worth this incredible risk," said Bob Dallas, GOHS director. "Regardless of age or level of driving experience, drivers who consume too any spirits while getting into the holiday spirit must find a safe and sober ride home."

Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman said the agency's DUI unit doesn't have any special details or roadblocks scheduled at this time, but that doesn't mean they're not out there.

"They will be out enforcing traffic law as usual and searching for signs of drivers under the influence," Spellman said. "They will not be in any particular location. They will be in various areas throughout the county."

Dallas offered a few tips and reminders to those who will be using Georgia's roadways.

"There are so many simple ways to prevent tragedy," he said. "Arrange for a sober driver, store taxi cab company numbers in your cell phone or take mass transit. Know your limits, be responsible and be prepared to call 911 if you see an impaired driver endangering other lives on the road."