GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Between now and New Year's Day, Gautier Police will be on the lookout for drivers not obeying the rules of the road, especially those drinking and driving. The increased enforcement is to prevent tragedies as this year comes to a close.
Dozens of drivers on Dolphin Drive in Gautier were met with flashing blue lights Thursday. Police were conducting a surprise safety checkpoint just one day after Christmas.
"We are just trying to keep the roads safe and keep accidents down," Officer Christopher Smith said.
With the help of a grant from the Department of Highway Safety, Gautier is stepping up patrols and cracking down on those not obeying the rules of the road during this festive season. In fact, police have already written 266 tickets in just the past two months.
"People not wearing their seat belts, texting is very bad thing. They are doing right now; it causes careless driving. People driving without their tags or they are expired," Sgt. Mark Rodriguez said.
The major focus around this time of the year is drunk drivers. Police said many people don't think about the dangers that come with jumping behind the wheel intoxicated.
"Since the beginning of this quarter, October to now, we have had 38 DUI arrests, and our goal is to have zero, if at all possible. That will be the best thing," Smith said.
These police officers want the holidays to be happy and fun for everyone, yet they're urging drivers to make smart, safe decisions or they'll end up with a ticket or behind bars.
"I just want them to be aware there are a lot of people on the road; the traffic is heavier than normal so slow down, pay attention to what you are doing. Try to avoid texting and driving and certainly don't drink and drive. If you have to drink during a party, then find someone to drive you home," Smith said.
The grant Gautier received was for $46,000. Ocean Springs, Pascagoula and Moss Point also have similar campaigns to push for safety and sobriety on the roads.