MADD supports DUI bill headed to MS Gov

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Pass Christian woman will stand trial on drunk driving charges after a man was run over and killed on Interstate ten in Harrison County. Prosecutors say last week a grand jury indicted Sara Koch for felony DUI causing death. They say she struck a man walking along the shoulder of the road last year. According to public records, Koch had been convicted of misdemeanor DUI in 2011.

Meanwhile, a bill is headed to Governor Phil Bryant's desk that would mean stiffer penalties for drunk driving convictions.

Road blocks are one way police officers try get drunk drivers off the streets. A proposed state law would allow judges to make first time offenders use an ignition interlock device for six months.

Jimmy Johnson of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said, "That is a tool that law enforcement can use or the court can use to stop someone from getting on the highway that will either kill themselves, kill their family or kill someone else. That is the main purpose is to save lives."

Before joining MADD, Johnson spent more than 30 years in law enforcement. He said MADD supports how the law would make a fourth DUI a felony no matter how much time in between convictions.

"I have been in law enforcement for over 30 years and retired. I saw people make mistakes. People drink and go to a party. They have fun. Their team wins," said Johnson. "They drink more than they should, and they know they shouldn't drive, but they do. They get caught. They pay their fine or they go to school or some type of training. And that's fine. They've learned from their mistakes. "

"When a person gets in a car and drives twice, three times, especially four times, they haven't learned from their mistakes. Of course, then there are consequences," Johnson said.

MADD said the real solution to drinking and driving is prevention through education. So April 21st is Power 21 Day, a day to talk to your kids about the dangers of alcohol.

"Awareness programs always start in kindergarten, and then go first, third, fifth, sixth and up through high school. Because that's the basic," Johnson said. "You have to build a basic foundation of strong education and strong awareness for a great prevention program."

The bill would allow people to have their first DUI conviction expunged if drivers complete six months with the interlock device without incident.

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