PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The holidays are a time to celebrate and have fun with friends and family. However, it’s also important to stay safe when you’re behind the wheel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said drunk driving is always an issue, but it’s even more common during the holidays.
They said there were almost 300 drunk-driving-related deaths during Christmas and New Year’s back in 2018, which were 100 percent preventable.
Franklin County Sheriff Tony A.J. Smith said he has a zero-tolerance policy for intoxicated driving.
“If you get behind the wheel and you’ve been drinking, you’re gonna go to jail… No ifs, ands, or buts. You’re going to jail,” Sheriff Smith said. “There’s no calling a buddy to come get you, there’s no letting you sleep it off in your car… You’re going straight to jail. Do not pass go. Don’t get 200 bucks. Go straight to jail.”
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office also shares the same viewpoints.
“Get a designated driver or use Uber or a taxi, or call a friend if you find yourself probably in a situation where you shouldn’t be driving,” BCSO public information officer Ruth Corley said. “That’s just so very dangerous on many levels… So we encourage everyone to stay sober, or you’re gonna get pulled over.”
Agencies in our area said there will be an increased presence on the roads during the holiday season.
“We’re fully staffed… We have deputies out like we always do,” Corley said. “We’re always looking for anyone who may be driving erratically, unsafely, and then you have to pull them over and find out why and what’s going on… Yes, we do make DUI arrests.”
“We have an increased presence for New Year’s, some of these times when people are out partying and drinking,” Sheriff Smith. “Again, we’re encouraging people to get a designated driver.”
Sheriff Smith said law enforcement agencies all have one thing in common: the goal to keep the public safe.
“Buzzed driving is drunk driving, so don’t become impaired and try to get behind the wheel,” Corley said. “That can be very dangerous not only for you, but for someone else.”