Police work overtime to prevent holiday tragedies

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - If you hit the road this weekend and don't obey the law, you'll probably meet a law enforcement officer face to face. Their message to you is simple, don't drink and drive. They are working overtime this weekend, with help from a state-wide grant, to keep extra patrols on roads during holidays. It's called "Over the Limit, Under Arrest."

"This campaign is focused on removing impaired drivers from our highways," said Ocean Springs Police Department Traffic Sergeant Calvin Robertson. "If they're driving recklessly, driving off the roadway, weaving left and right, we're going to stop. And we're going to check and see if they're impaired."

The campaign started August 21st, and continues through the weekend. Since the campaign began, the Mississippi Highway Patrol has made 428 DUI arrests statewide. Robertson said 40 percent of all fatal accidents involve alcohol. During the year 2007, nearly 13,000 people lost their lives on American highways in crashes involving impaired drivers.

Officers like Alfred Ray Parker believe it's preventable.

"All you have to do is either call a cab or call a friend," Parker said. "There's no point. There's really no point these days for anybody to have to drive drunk."

Parker also said he's noticed it's often other people who pay most dearly.

"It's usually innocent people who winds up getting hurt, seriously or getting killed in an accident due to a drunk driver," Park said.

Robertson agrees most alcohol-related accidents could be avoided.

"Far too many people still don't understand that alcohol, drugs and drunk driving don't mix," Robertson said. "Impaired driving is no accident nor is it a victimless crime."

Officers said their goal this weekend is to help stop tragedy before it strikes by putting the brakes on drunk, drugged and dangerous drivers.

They want you to know they're out there.

"When you're proactive, you're out here being seen. People are going to get on the phone and start calling their friends," Robertson explained.  "[They might say] 'Hey, they're out here tonight, don't drink and drive.'"

These officers said one DUI-related death is one too many.

"That's the reason we're out here," Robertson said.  "We want people to be safe.  We don't have to go to somebody's door and tell them that their loved one is either seriously injured or not coming home."

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