Law Enforcement Officials Push For Tougher Drunk Driving Law

Mississippi law enforcers from across the state are joining forces, not to pursue a criminal, but to pursue new laws.  The Mississippi Association of Chief's of Police, the Sheriff's Association and the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Association have created a new coalition.

Among the bills the officers support include pay raises for county officials to include sheriffs, making it a crime in and of itself to run from the police, and lowering the state's blood alcohol level in order to get more drunk drivers off the road. Officers want the legislature to lower the level from .10 to .08.

"There are too many alcohol related deaths and accidents," Hattiesburg Police Chief Charlie Sims said.  "We feel it's important this legislation passes."

By 2004, a federal mandate will require all states to lower their legal blood alcohol level to point 08. A bill to do just that passed the Senate this week and is now in the House. But House leadership isn't sure how far that bill will make it this year.

"I think one thing that has rankled some of the legislators is that it's actually a federal mandate; they would be withholding some transportation funds in the event some states don't do this," House Speaker Tim Ford said.  "I think this tastes a little bitter when you're made to do something."

But at some point between now and 2004, the legislation will pass. Until it does, law enforcement officers say they'll continue pushing and supporting it.