Labor Day DUI crackdown enforced

Multi-state agencies meet up to promote 'Hands Across the Border' campaign

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Leading up to Labor Day weekend, there's a crackdown on drunk driving.

Thursday morning, law enforcement agencies in north Florida and south Georgia met at the state line, joining thousands of agencies across the nation taking part in the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign.

The crackdown on impaired driving began on Aug. 16 and runs through the Labor Day holiday.

Agencies in Florida and Georgia met in Nassau County for the 22nd annual "Hands Across the Border."

"The hardest thing that we do is knock on someone's door to tell a family member someone they love and care about has been killed, 'cause it changes that person's world forever," said Nassau County Sheriff and former Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Bill Leeper.

"Why is it socially acceptable to get behind a 3,000- or 4,000-pound car under the influence, not in control of your faculties. Why is that acceptable?" added Col. Mark McDonough, of the Georgia State Patrol. "It should be that's no different from consciously making the decision to harm somebody."

Drunken driving is one of America's deadliest crimes. In 2012, there were nearly 1,000 alcohol-related fatalities in Florida.

"Every Labor Day weekend and the weeks leading up to Labor Day, we always see a pretty sharp increase in the number of traffic crashes and fatalities by the sheer number of vehicles on the roads," said Andrew Johnson, Florida campaign liaison.

Johnson said the careless disregard for human lives must stop and that's why officers in Florida and Georgia are promising a "no tolerance" policy this Labor Day weekend, and will arrest impaired drivers wherever and whenever they find them.

"When you drink, when you get behind the wheel of a car, that's an intentional act," Johnson said. "You're saying, 'I understand that I've had a drink or two or three, but I'm OK.'"

"If you decide that in your mind and you get stopped, you're going to jail," said Channel 4 crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson.

Thursday's Hands Across the Border event is the third this week. The officers already met at the state line on Interstate 75 and on Interstate 10. I-10 is where a second, brand new, multi-state initiative is ongoing, from Jacksonville to Santa Monica, Calif.

"All of our troopers that align with the corridor for I-10, they're going to be looking for aggressive drivers, DUIs, speeding," said FHP Capt. Nancy Rasmussen.

So while you're out and about this holiday weekend, remember that law enforcement is, too, and weigh the consequences before getting behind the wheel impaired.

"You're talking about attorneys fees, you're talking about fines, you're talking about your driver's license being suspended, all these various headaches you're going to have to go through," Jefferson said. "This is the type of thing that is totally preventable."

It's not just impaired driving. It's breaking the law, period -- like speeding.

The average person caught speeding is going 15-20 mph over the speed limit. Troopers say there's no excuse for going that far over the limit, and it will cost drivers, depending on the county, about $270 for a speeding ticket.

The Hands Across the Border safety campaign was started in Nassau County between a Florida and Georgia state trooper 22 years ago.