SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - During the holidays, law enforcement officials across the state will ramp up their efforts to keep intoxicated drivers off of Mississippi roadways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 2013 Christmas and New Year's 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign will start next Friday, December 13, and will last until January 2, 2014.
George County Sheriff Dean Howell says his deputies will be out relentlessly searching for drunk drivers during what they call the blitz.
"We will be out every day and night during the blitz period," said Howell.
"If you drink, please don't get behind the wheel. Use a designated driver."
Officials say the program is designed to make drivers realize that it is not acceptable to drink and drive. They say some drivers still believe it is ok to drive buzzed, but officers say buzzed driving is drunk driving. Even one drink can give you a buzz.
Officials said that alcohol related fatalities are about four times greater during the night than during the day, and more than 30 percent of fatal crashes on weekends are caused by drunk drivers.
According to George County Sheriff's Sergeant Joe Griffin, who is the DUI officer for the department, George County will not be a safe place for drunk drivers this holiday season.
"We will be on the lookout for impaired drivers, with additional deputies on the county's roads throughout the blitz, and increased DUI patrols and saturation checkpoints throughout the county to catch those who are driving drunk," said Griffin.
Griffin said since the beginning of the fiscal year, which began October 1, he has already made 26 DUI arrests. Last year, former DUI officer Sergeant Jason Pharez arrested over 90 people who were driving under the influence.
Officers want to remind you that drunk driving can cost you more than a night in jail. It can cost you thousands of dollars, your job, your education and your life or the life of someone else.
Law enforcement officials urge you to report suspected drunk drivers by contacting the nearest law enforcement agency or by calling 911.