"Don't drink and drive" is more than a slogan for Speaker Philip - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

"Don't drink and drive" is more than a slogan for Speaker Philip Gunn

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn has made it his mission to preach a don't drink and drive message for more than 20 years.

"I lost my entire family, immediate family, in one accident," explained Gunn.

Philip Gunn was 25 years old and in law school when life turned upside down. His parents and sister came to visit him in Oxford. 

"On the way home they were struck, the car in which they were riding was struck by a drunk driver," he described. "The car exploded. All three of them were killed instantly."

He'd always been against drinking and driving. But the accident was a reminder of the reasons.

"It's such a senseless act and one that's so easy to avoid," said Gunn. "It takes nothing to make a phone call to a cab or to a friend and say come get me. And you can save so much hardship. Not only for yourself but those who you might injure."

Howard Hewlett was 43 at the time of the accident. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

"And I bet he regrets the day that he got behind the wheel of the car drunk," Gunn said.

He now speaks to groups about the decisions they're making before they get behind the wheel. He admits that his story doesn't always seem to resonate with them. So, that's why he asks them to look at it in a different way.

"You turn it around and you say now, you could have been the man who hit them," he said. "And you could be the one in jail. That seems to ring a bell with them then."

Gunn's used his position in the legislature to advocate for increased penalties for drinking and driving.

"Hopefully some of the things we've passed up here will help someone else from going through what I had to go through," explained Gunn.

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