When Forsyth County Sheriff’s Sgt. Bill Loring thinks about his encounters with impaired drivers, one particular incident comes to mind.
Several years ago, he responded to a head-on collision on McGinnis Ferry Road in south Forsyth. As firefighters worked to remove a badly injured couple from one of the vehicles, Loring interviewed the driver of the other car.
“She actually from time to time would start to dance,” he recalled of the woman, who was charged that night with driving under the influence.
“She didn’t know where she was and said she wasn’t good with directions.”
As New Year’s Eve approaches, authorities are cautioning residents to be safe and responsible as they bid farwell to 2011 and welcome 2012. The 78-hour holiday period begins at 6 p.m. and ends Monday night.
Last New Year’s weekend, Georgia State Patrol troopers handled 320 traffic crashes that resulted in 270 injuries and seven deaths statewide. Some 170 people for cited for driving under the influence.
In the wreck that Loring worked years earlier, the couple was seriously injured.
They had been en route home when the woman’s vehicle crossed the center line and struck them “headlight to headlight.”
The other driver told Loring that a mark across her chest, most likely caused by her seat belt in the collision, was just a pimple.
“She later pled guilty to serious injury and she did two or three years in prison,” Loring said.
The officer noted that media campaigns aimed at discouraging impaired driving are effective and not every driver authorities meet is impaired.
“We do come across a lot of designated drivers, which is good,” he said. “But there are people like this that don’t listen and for some reason get behind the wheel thinking they’re OK and they’re not.”
To that end, Sheriff’s Capt. Tim House said the agency’s DUI Task Force will be working every night over the long weekend.
The unit, which is aimed at keeping impaired drivers off the road, will be conducting safety checkpoints and patrols.
Holiday revelers are encouraged to stay home, use a designated driver or call a taxi if the celebration includes alcohol.
Cumming Police Sgt. Bryan Zimbardi said officers will conduct extra patrols and traffic operations to help ensure the safety of drivers in the city.
“Please pay extra attention if you are out driving on New Year’s Eve,” he said. “If you find that you are unable to safely make it home, please seek a taxi service.”
Through a partnership with the Georgia Office of Highway Safety, some taxi services are offering free rides on New Year’s Eve.
For more information, go online at www.gahighwaysafety.org. In addition, Zimbardi said the department has a list of several taxi companies that operate in the city. For that list, call (770) 781-2000.