Cherokee officials hope for safe Memorial Day weekend
by Michelle Babcock
May 24, 2014 04:00 AM | 2688 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local and state law enforcement will be out in force this weekend, as holiday travel and boating is expected to pick up over the Memorial Day weekend.

The Memorial Day holiday travel period began at 6 p.m. Friday and lasts for 78 hours, ending at midnight on Memorial Day, according to the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Jay Baker said driving a car or boat while impaired “simply isn’t worth it.”

“Please do not operate a vehicle or boat while impaired,” Baker said. “Our traffic enforcement and VIPER units will be conducting safety check points at different locations in Cherokee County this weekend. They will be looking for impaired drivers, as well as seat belt and license violations.”

Last Memorial Day weekend, the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office reported six DUI arrests, no serious injury accidents and no fatalities.

In 2012, the Sheriff’s Office recorded seven DUI arrests during the Memorial Day weekend. In 2011, the Sheriff’s Office reported 13 DUI arrests.

Baker said there has been a downward trend in the number of DUI arrests in Cherokee for the past five years.

Baker said the trend is a positive thing for the county, and urged drivers to make this weekend another safe Memorial Day holiday.

“The Cherokee Sheriff’s Office would like to urge motorists and boaters to make smart choices this Memorial Day weekend,” Baker said.

Georgia State Troopers will also be out in force this weekend, in an effort to keep the number of wrecks to a minimum, said Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

“Troopers and Motor Carrier Compliance officers will be conducting road checks, high visibility patrols and concentrated patrols across the state during the holiday period,” McDonough said. “Traffic will be heavy as graduation ceremonies, festivals and vacation travelers will add to the normal weekend traffic.”

Some weekend events could add to the local traffic congestion, with Memorial Day ceremonies planned for today at 10 a.m. at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, and for Monday at 10 a.m. at The Park at City Center in downtown Woodstock.

The Holly Springs Police Department will hold its annual 5-K race today from 8 to 9 a.m. With multiple roads blocked during the event, traffic congestion could linger after the event.

From 8 to 9 a.m., during the event in Holly Springs, road closures include: Hickory Road at Newlight Road for westbound traffic; Hickory Road at Sequoyah Circle for eastbound traffic; Morgan Road at Hickory Road; and, all side streets along Holly Lane.

During the Memorial Day holiday period last year, statewide troopers investigated 650 wrecks, resulting in 366 injuries and six fatalities.

The troopers also made 310 DUI arrests statewide, issued 9,288 citations and gave 15,328 warnings, reports show.

Not only is road safety a concern this weekend, but as summer activities pick up over the holiday, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is urging boaters and swimmers to be wise and follow safety rules.

Melissa Cummings, a GDNR spokeswoman, said last Memorial Day weekend at Lake Allatoona, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources rangers reported three BUI arrests and three boating accidents resulting in two injuries.

During the Memorial Day holiday, there were no drowning or boating-related fatalities, reports show.

In total for the 2013 holiday, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division recorded 112 boating incidents statewide, resulting in 16 fatalities, and made 160 BUI arrests.

Col. Eddie Henderson, GDNR Law Enforcement Division director, said boaters can help to minimize the risk for everyone enjoying Memorial Day on Georgia waterways.

“Your attention to safety rules and alertness to other people on the water can save lives,” Henderson said. “It is your role to be as safe as possible so you are in control of your vessel and anything unexpected that happens on the water.”

Henderson explained the top safety rules for boaters during the holiday weekend.

“Designate an operator. Do not drink and operate a boat,” Henderson explained. “Georgia law changed in 2013 to move the blood alcohol content level to 0.08 to match Georgia driving law.”

Henderson reminded boaters everyone under the age of 13 is required to wear a life jacket, and it’s important to check the maximum weight and number of people for each boat.

Boats are also required to use navigation lights at night, Henderson said.

“Watch your speed,” Henderson added. “The 100-foot law applies to all size vessels and prohibits operation at speeds greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any vessel, unless overtaking or meeting another vessel in compliance with the rules of the road.”

More information on boating laws in Georgia can be found at

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