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Officers crack down on drunk driving
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Celebrations in neighboring counties

Law enforcement officers have started an increase in patrol a little early this year in anticipation of a busy Fourth of July weekend.

The Georgia Department of Highway Safety announced their plans to begin immediately attempting to crack down on DUIs. According to a press release, 14 people were killed in Georgia during the 2007 holiday weekend. Half of the deaths were DUI-related.

"The July 4 travel period is the second most deadly time to drive on Georgia roadways," said GOHS Director of Public Affairs Jim Shuler. "Only New Year’s poses a greater threat to life behind the wheel or in the passenger seat."

For the Georgia State Patrol, the holiday begins July 2 at 6 p.m. and lasts for 78 hours, until July 5. Using data from previous years, the GSP predicts 22 fatalities state-wide, along with 825 injuries from car accidents and more then 1,800 car accidents.

"We encourage people to obey the speed limit, and if you are going to be consuming alcoholic beverages, do not drive; have a designated driver. If you are hosting an event, we would appreciate it if you would monitor your guests," said Lt. Paul Cusper. "If you see someone out there driving erratically please notify the authorities," he continued. "You can call 911 or *GSP (477) and tell us a general description and direction of travel of the vehicle. There will also be road checks located in strategic places."

Fireworks safety

Rockdale County Fire Prevention Officer R.J. Malcolm also reminds residents to be safe when handling firecrackers this holiday weekend.

Firecrackers that explode or are projectiles are illegal in Georgia, he said, including bottle rockets and Roman candles. As a rule of thumb, sparklers and firecrackers that smoke or spin are generally allowed; firecrackers that require out-of-state travel to buy are probably not.

If playing with fireworks, check to see that there are not flammable materials around. "Make sure there’s a clear area to set them off," he said.

Children should always be supervised by adults when setting off fireworks. Even sparklers can heat up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Possible injuries from fireworks include burns, lost fingers, hearing damage and vision damage.

For more tips on fireworks safety, go to

Michelle Kim contributed to this article.