Major DUI enforcement initiative under way for holidays Sunday, 20 December 2009
By BRIAN HAWKINS
Law enforcement agencies across the region will soon be placing extra focus on catching drunk drivers as part a specialized campaign coordinated by the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety.
The Starkville Police Department, Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department and Mississippi Highway Patrol are among the area agencies participating in the “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” campaign that kicked off this past Wednesday and continues through Jan. 3.
The campaign will focus on DUI and other alcohol-related offenses, as well as seat belt enforcement and traffic safety, said SPD Sgt. Shawn Word, who is coordinating the campaign efforts for the counties served by the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s Troop G.
The SPD, for example, will have its DUI officers out in force and random safety checkpoints are planned through the end of the campaign period, Word said.
“We’re asking agencies to step up enforcement during this period,” Word said. “The officers who write seat belt tickets and make DUI arrests go out and look for them. They create a deterrent for others against drinking and driving.”
MHP Trooper Brian Mobley, who serves as Troop G’s public affairs officer, agreed. MHP troopers will be out in force during the holidays, he said.
“We will be stepping up enforcement efforts the next few weeks, including for safety belt use,” Mobley said Friday. “We will be conducting some safety checkpoints throughout the 10-county district Troop G serves. If you think you’ve got to drink during the holidays, then don’t get behind the wheel.
“If you do, we will be out there, and we will take you to jail,” Mobley said.
Specialized enforcement efforts like the “Over The Limit, Under Arrest” campaign do save lives and deter drunk driving offenses, said Robert Hancock, central region law enforcement liaison for the Office of Highway Safety.
The most recent “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” campaign held over a two-week period in late August and early September saw more than 1,800 DUI arrests made across Mississippi.
A “Click It Or Ticket” effort held over a 12-day period in May — a crackdown targeting seat belt use — saw 14,000 tickets seat belt offense and 1,800 child restraint violation tickets written statewide, as well as 1,400 DUI arrests, Hancock said. This resulted in a 65 percent decrease in vehicular crashes for May, Hancock said.
It also resulted in a 4 percent increase in the state’s seat belt use rate from the previous level of 72 percent, Hancock said.
“These campaigns work. They help prevent crashes and help get impaired drivers off the streets,” Hancock said. Friday “Over the Christmas holidays, we’re asking agencies to step it up a bit. One of the main things we’re trying to do is save lives in Mississippi.”
“We don’t want to have a police officer, sheriff’s deputy or state trooper to have to go to a family and tell them that there has been a crash with a fatality,” Hancock added. Last Updated ( Monday, 21 December 2009 )