As many residents celebrated Christmas and rang in the new year with alcohol, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office took steps to keep impaired drivers off the roads.
Seven people were charged with driving under the influence during the Christmas and New Year's holidays, said sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris. That's one fewer arrest than a year ago.
"That is about average," Morris said. "Only one involved a minor accident. There were no fatalities that were alcohol-related."
Morris attributes the low number of DUI arrests to beefed-up enforcement during the holiday season, including concentrated patrols and sobriety checkpoints.
Public awareness about the extra enforcement efforts and the dangers of driving under the influence also helped curb impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel, Morris said.
The main factor in keeping DUI arrests low is that drivers are policing themselves, Morris said.
"They get it," Morris said. "Calling a friend or calling a taxi is cheaper than a DUI, a lot cheaper than a burial and substantially more pleasant than an arrest."
Drivers charged in Columbia County with DUI during the holiday season, from Christmas Eve through New Year's Day, were:
- Philip Spencer, 43, of Augusta
- James Smith, 29, of Grovetown
- John Beard, 39, of Hephzibah
- Jeffrey Ramirez, 54, of Evans
- Miguel de Jesus, 38, of Grovetown
- Andy Cauley, 33, of Martinez
- Vanillia Ponder, 28, of Thomson.
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