DUI officer making a difference in Mississippi

Harrison Co. Deputy Justin Branning
Harrison Co. Deputy Justin Branning

Justin Branning is passionate about getting drunk drivers off the roads, and it shows in his work.

For the past three years, the Harrison County deputy has arrested more impaired drivers than any other officer in Mississippi. DUI statistics indicate his hard work is beginning to make a difference.

"I think everybody finds that niche, something that they're good at," said Justin Branning.

The seven year deputy has found his niche in arresting impaired drivers. He's made more than 300 such arrests a year, for the past three years.

"The more we're out and about and the more people see us, hopefully it's preventive enforcement and you stop people from doing the wrong thing 'cause they see you out a lot," said Deputy Branning.

Branning is encouraged by a significant decrease in his DUI arrest numbers last year.  He made 304 arrests in 2010, down from 341 the year before.

"I'm working the same roads, I'm in the same areas, I'm working the same shifts. And I'm working more hours. And I'm finding less people. So I hope people, especially in the county, are learning more and people are making the right decisions," he said.

He said many impaired drivers say they've only had two drinks, even if the honest truth is ten or 12. Plus, most never realize they're driving dangerously.

"Ninety-nine percent of the people you deal with, whether it's alcohol related or illegal drugs or prescription medications, 99 percent of the people don't realize they're on the shoulder or they're going into the grass," said the deputy.

Statistics support the idea that removing impaired drivers from the roads can save lives.  Of all the traffic accidents in Mississippi the past five years, nearly 40 percent were alcohol related.

Branning, who had an uncle killed by a drunk driver, said he's motivated to try and prevent such tragedies.

"Hope that I make a difference, whether it's one or two people that might have been in a car accident. You know, that you prevented that kind of stuff from happening," he said.

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