Law enforcement officials warn holiday travelers to be vigilant and drive sober

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Highways and interstates will be jammed this weekend with people eager to hit the road to spend the holidays with their loved ones, and law enforcement officials are reminding people to be patient and vigilant while traveling.

Florida Highway Patrol Lieutenant Eddie Elmore said holiday travelers should prepare for long wait times while traveling and make sure their car is in good condition to travel. If you're holiday shopping or just out for a drive roadways are going to be busy.

"We get an increase in crashes, we get an increase in road rage incidents where there is conflict out on the roadway," said Lt. Elmore.

He said they want people to enjoy the holiday season and travel safely to their destination. Law enforcement officials said people should leave early to avoid the traffic and get a good night's sleep to stay alert while on the road.

Bay County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Ruth Corley said to also watch out for debris on the road because it can damage your car and also cause an accident.

"The longer the debris sit's there the less organized it remains," said Corley, "I have seen driving around town some of the large limbs have started to slide into the road."

Law enforcement officials said to remember to buckle up and avoid texting and other distractions while driving. Corley also said to remember that some traffic lights still aren't functioning and stop signs are down in some areas after Hurricane Michael.

If your holiday parties include alcohol the FHP is warning you not to drive while impaired troopers will be paroling keeping an eye out for impaired and distracted drivers.

According to FHP officials, more than 2,700 DUIs were issued last year between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. Elmore said troopers will be doing saturation patrols to find drunk drivers and keep roadways safe.

"Their main focus is impaired driving so they're gonna be looking for those driving patterns that indicate someone is under the influence," said Lt. Elmore. He said if you're caught driving while drunk you'll pay expensive fines, have your license revoked and serve jail time.