SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Mississippi is making good progress in the ongoing battle to keep drunk drivers off the road. The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving issued its annual report on Thursday, and Mississippi scored five out of five stars.
The report from MADD praises Mississippi for passing an ignition interlock law last year. The law requires DUI offenders to blow into a breath measuring device that determines whether their car will start.
MADD says that, along with high-visibility law enforcement, is making a difference.
"We're moving in the right direction. We've still got some work to do," said former Gulfport Police Chief Alan Weatherford.
Weatherford lost his daughter to a drunk driver nearly four years ago. Since then, he and his wife have been making a difference by speaking at victim impact panels.
"Someone walks up to you that you don't recognize, and they say to you, 'I just want you to know I was there when you spoke two weeks ago, and you made a difference in my life. Thank you,'" Weatherford said.
Law enforcers point to greater public awareness, more police visibility and tougher laws for making a difference.
"The five star rating is certainly an example of those strides. We are pleased with the recent legislation that's been passed that was introduced by Speaker Gunn. I certainly think that will enable law enforcement to enforce the DUI laws more effectively," said Louis Elias, with the Harrison County Law Enforcement Training Center.
The next wave of technology for battling DUIs is something called DADDS. The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety.
Imagine getting into your vehicle and it automatically analyzes your breath for the presence of alcohol, and if there's too much alcohol in your system, then it won't let you start your car.
"The goal one day is to have no impaired driving deaths," said Weatherford.
Several car manufacturers are working on that new technology for future vehicles. Along with measuring alcohol by analyzing a driver's breath, another system involves a touch-screen and detects alcohol levels through the skin.