DUI enforcement kicks into overdrive for holidays - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

DUI enforcement kicks into overdrive for holidays

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - From now until New Year's Day, expect to see lots of law enforcement all over the Magnolia State.

It's a concerted effort by dozens of agencies to crack down on drunk driving.

The Mississippi Office of Highway Safety hopes a two-fold strategy -- awareness and enforcement -- will help save lives this holiday season.

"They were home on spring break, and their parents sent them to the store to get the family something to eat," victim advocate Kevin Wilbert said.
"A drunk driver -- she ran the stop sign, and she hit them and killed them. She had her kids in the car as well."

Wilbert's talking about A.J. Cannon and Julius Dozier. The two New Albany college students were killed in 2008 after a head-on collision.

Now, Wilbert hopes greater awareness leads to fewer drunk drivers on the roads.

"Last year in Mississippi alone, there were two hundred people killed in alcohol-related crashes, two hundred people that's not here today," Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz said. "And the families that were affected by this all over the state is unreal."

The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign for the Christmas holiday kicked off Friday.

Many officers contend that information is only part of the solution.

They suggest that more safety checkpoints, more officers working late nights, and more departments working together will save more lives.

"Drivers who are out there who are drinking or have had a drink, don't have a designated driver, will certainly be pulled off the road so that you and I, our families, can be safe," said Shirley Thomas, office director for the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety.

Last year during the Christmas holiday season, 857 people were injured in Mississippi.

And for so many -- especially children -- one medical professional says the road to recovery can be long.

"You may see children riding bicycles down the hallway, learning to walk again, or unfortunately there are some children that actually live in our hospital as a result of their injuries, and they can no longer use their limbs," UMMC Trauma Center nurse practitioner Michelle Goreth said.

So who's most at risk?

Mississippi's Office of Highway Safety says teen drivers are most likely to die in alcohol-related crashes even though they're too young to legally buy or possess alcohol.

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