GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Police officers in South Mississippi say it's no secret. They will be targeting drunk drivers over the next few weeks. Law enforcement agencies launched their Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign on Wednesday.
Flanked by officers from throughout South Mississippi, Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania issued this simple warning.
"For those who choose to drive impaired and cause risk to themselves and others, you should know that law enforcement will be out looking for you," said Papania.
Sobriety checkpoints and high visibility patrols will be a key component of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.
"Approximately 10,000 lives are lost every year to drunk driving. August is one of the highest months in the state for DUI investigations and DUI fatalities," said Gulfport Sgt. Damon McDaniel.
Deanna Tucker, the daughter of former Gulfport Police Chief Alan Weatherford, was among the statistics in 2011. Since the tragedy, he has been an outspoken advocate for DUI crackdowns and better prevention. He says businesses that serve alcohol need to be a part of that prevention equation.
"I ask our business owners to be responsible and help with the designated driver program, call a cab program, because we can make a difference," he Weatherford.
Bill Downs also knows what it's like to lose loved ones in a drunk driving crash. He lost three family members.
"I ask you as a parent, support us. Make that phone call. If you see somebody, give these officers a chance to do their job and do it as well as they do," said Downs.
The messages about awareness and prevention may be working. The latest statewide numbers show that alcohol related deaths are on a downward trend over the past several years.
"You don't want to let your guard down. This is something that's very important that we need to continue on obviously until its gone away, until impaired driving is gone away, we have to be vigilant," said Papania.
The law enforcement crackdown begins Wednesday and continues through September 1. Police say August is typically one of the busiest months for DUI arrests.