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Authorities cracking down on drunk & unsafe driving during Labor Day weekend

6:17 PM, Aug 29, 2013   |    comments
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Photo Credit: Camden County Sheriff's Office

CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. -- It's the start to Labor Day weekend and many of you will be hitting the roads; criss-crossing Florida, Georgia and the nation for the holiday.

But, authorities want you to take a hard look and listen to something. It's an issue that affects drivers in Florida and Georgia.

John Sahlman and his family are on the road heading back home to Burlington, Connecticut, from West Palm Beach.

"We visited family in Vero Beach," Sahlman explained. "Now we're headed to North Carolina to visit my brother."

Though well versed in family road trips, he said drunk or distracted drivers are on his mind while on the roadways. "Definitely," he explained. "Definitely with both."

Sahlman recalls a very personal and scary memory from 1976. "I was hit on my way to college by a drunk driver at a 100 mile an hour impact. I was fortunate to survive it."

Survive is what police from Florida and Georgia want you to do. All eight states that line Interstate-10, from Florida to California are cracking down on drunk driving this weekend.

"I think that's great," Sahlman said. "I think that's critically needed."

Thursday, at least 100 officers from Florida and Georgia gathered at the Florida Welcome Center and drove up I-95 together to Georgia's I-95 Welcome Center.

It is all a part of a crack down on drunk and unsafe driving through the 22nd annual "Hands Across the Border" campaign.

"We've seen fatalities reduced as a result of that," Nassau County Sheriff, Bill Leeper said. "But, we still have a long way to go. Even when one person is killed, it's too many."

The Florida Department of Transportation said there were 2,395 traffic deaths in 2012. The Florida Highway Patrol said there were 595 DUI arrests and 685 DUI or drug related crashes in the last year.

In Georgia, the Georgia State Patrol said there were roughly 1,200 deaths and an estimated 38% of them were involving drunk drivers. Wednesday night in Camden County, authorities caught two fugitives, nine suspended licenses and a DUI at a road check.

"Some simple things the citizens can do," Mark McDonough, who is the Colonel of the Georgia State Patrol and Commissioner of the state's Department of Public Safety. "Slow down! Wear your damn seat belt!"

"Don't drink and drive and get off this thing. This is killing people," he added while displaying a cellphone.

First Coast News asked some of the top cops in both the Florida Highway Partol and Georgia State Patrol what happens if you're caught drunk driving on your first offense?

Police say you're license could be suspended for up to six months in Georgia and up to 12 months in Florida and you could pay a fine of less than $1,000.

First Coast News

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