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29th Annual “Hands Across the Border” DUI Prevention Campaign Returns This Week

State and local law enforcement officers remind motorists to not drink and drive before the Labor Day Holiday weekend.

(ATLANTA)  With some states seeing an increase in alcohol-related crashes and deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia is looking to get drunk and drugged drivers off the road during the 29th annual “Hands Across the Border” DUI enforcement and awareness campaign on August 18-21.

“Hands Across the Border” began in Kingsland, Georgia in 1991 as a friendly wager between the Georgia State Patrol and Florida Highway Patrol to see which agency could reduce the number of DUI deaths in the southeast Georgia and northeast Florida area. Within ten years, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee joined the multi-state effort to save lives on roads across the southeastern United States.

While COVID-19 will prevent the traditional handshake between troopers in the participating states this year, local law enforcement officers across Georgia will continue their work to save lives on our roads by taking drunk and drugged drivers to jail during “Hands Across the Border” and every day of the year.

“The pandemic has presented a major challenge for highway safety enforcement efforts across the nation, and I want to thank our state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and police officers for all they do every day to make our roads safer for travel with the enforcement of traffic laws,” Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Allen Poole said.  “With the Labor Day holiday weekend approaching, “Hands Across the Border” will send the message that drinking and driving is never acceptable on our roads.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 10,511 drunk-driving deaths nationwide in 2018.  That averages to one person being killed in an alcohol-related crash every 50 minutes on a daily basis.

The number of alcohol-related deaths in Georgia in 2018 (375) increased by five percent from the previous year (356).  One out of four traffic deaths in Georgia in 2018 was alcohol-related.

According to preliminary data from the Georgia Department of Transportation, 74 people were killed in DUI crashes in Georgia from March through June of this year.  This is a 12 percent drop from the 84 people killed in DUI crashes over the same four months in 2019.  However, the volume of traffic on roads and highways in Georgia in 2020 has been estimated to have decreased  anywhere from 20 to 50 percent during the pandemic.

“One person killed by a drunk or drugged driver is one too many, and the only way to prevent drunk driving crashes is for people to make the right decision to not get behind the wheel when they are too impaired to drive,” Poole said.  “While many people make the right decision to pass the keys to a sober driver, state and local law enforcement officers will be looking to arrest those who continue to endanger the lives of everyone on the road by driving after drinking.”

The 2020 “Hands Across the Border” will begin on Tuesday, August 18 in Bremen followed by stops in Dillard on Wednesday and Valdosta on Friday.  All meetings during the week will begin at 6:00 p.m. and will follow social distancing guidelines.  Media outlets wishing to attend any of the “Hands Across the Border” stops are asked to contact GOHS Communications Director Robert Hydrick at robert.hydrick@gohs.ga.gov.

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