MHP, city and county officers step up holiday enforcement

From press reports

In 1988 while in law school at Ole Miss, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn lost his parents and younger sister to a drunk driver. Speaker Gunn says his entire, immediate family was taken in one moment.

“Since that time, the loss has become especially poignant during the holidays,” Gunn said.

“I remember the first year after they died, at dinner, looking for a special dish my mother used to make and it wasn’t there. I kept searching for it and then I realized that dish isn’t here because my mother isn’t here. And that feeling grew as I had children.”

Today, public safety officials announced their participation in this year’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. The federally- funded, national initiative will put an additional 285 troopers on the road during the Christmas/New Year’s Holiday.

“This is the tenth year Mississippi has participated in the campaign,” Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz said. “Last year, there was an average of 81 DUI arrests every day, of those, more than 1,800 were under the age of 21.”

Over the past 12 years, there has been an average of about 30,000 DUI arrests in Mississippi each year.

“This year the federal government has awarded Mississippi more than $105,000 to put additional troopers on the roads and we will be out in force to make sure motorists abide by the rules of the road,” MHP Director Colonel Donnell Berry said.

The Christmas Holiday period begins Friday, December 21st at 6:00 p.m. and will continue to midnight Christmas night. MHP will have 117 extra troopers on patrol during that time and plans to use check points and rolling patrols to encourage motorists to follow the law while traveling.

“This is not about writing tickets, it is about saving lives,” Colonel Berry added. “We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable Christmas.”

The New Year’s Holiday period will begin Dec 28 and continues until midnight January 1, 2013.

Penalties for DUI conviction: 1st Offense: Fine: $250 – $1,000, up to 48 hours in jail, driver’s license suspended up to 90 days 2nd Offense (within five years) Fine: $600 – $1,500, no less than five days in jail and up to one year of imprisonment, driver’s license suspended for two years, 10 hours of community service. 3rd and Subsequent Offense(s) (within five years) becomes a felony offense Fine: $2,000 – $5,000, no less than one year and up to five years in prison, driver’s license suspended for five years and impoundment of vehicle and all vehicles licensed in the offender’s name.