New weapon in the battle against DUI - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

New weapon in the battle against DUI

(Photo source: MS Dept. of Public Safety) (Photo source: MS Dept. of Public Safety)

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Even though preliminary statistics show an across the board reduction in traffic fatalities including DUI in 2009, the Mississippi Highway Patrol will soon have three new vehicles on our state's roads to help in the fight against drunk driving. South Mississippi is among three regions that will get a breath alcohol testing (BAT)vehicle.

"Instead of transporting suspected drunk drivers to a local jail for a definitive breath test, we'll take them to a BAT vehicle stationed nearby," Mississippi Highway Patrol Lieutenant Colonel Donnell Berry said. "This means less time for a driver to sober up and potentially more convictions."

You can expect to see the BAT vehicle at DUI roadblocks, as well as more troopers in areas that have had a high number of alcohol related crashes. With the BAT vehicles in place, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety hopes to continue the downward trend in the number of accidents on our roads.

In 2005, nearly a 1,938 people were killed. The preliminary 2009 numbers show only 699 deaths.

"A 25 percent reduction in that amount of time is nothing short of incredible," said Kim Proctor, Director of the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety. "This decrease in fatalities shows commitment by the Mississippi Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies in keeping our roads safe from impaired drivers as well as the partnership it takes between state and federal agencies to accomplish that goal."

The public safety department purchased the BAT vehicles with money from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

"We cannot prevent every death on our roadways in Mississippi, but alcohol related deaths are preventable," Public Safety Commissioner Stephen Simpson said. "We will continue to make every effort to wipe out impaired driving in our state."

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