Coast officers beef up holiday patrols for "Drive Sober' campaign

Coast officers beef up holiday patrols for "Drive Sober' campaign

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - As Labor Day weekend approaches, expect to see more police officers across the Coast on the road looking for drunk drivers as part of the "Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over" campaign.

Officers in Ocean Springs say a partnership between law enforcement and private businesses has helped bring down the number of DUI arrests in the last decade.

Downtown Ocean Springs is known for its lively nightlife scene that draws big crowds into the many bars and restaurants. At Mosaic Tapas Bar, the owner said the staff tries to make sure that people enjoy themselves in a responsible way. 
"So we try to at the door check IDs, and at the same time if we look at a person and they are intoxicated, we don't allow them in the place," said owner Arturo Barajas. "While they are inside, we are constantly monitoring the drink consumption. If we see that somebody is getting intoxicated, we usually offer water or cab rides we call for them."

Ocean Springs police said more people in their city are choosing to call a cab rather than get behind the wheel drunk. They said since 2005, they've noticed a dip in DUI arrests.

Lt. James Billingsley said, "I don't know the year that the cabs started being effective, but they are. I see it. I see people calling cabs more frequently than they used to. The cabs just weren't around years ago. So I believe that has helped a lot and people take advantage of it. It just works."

For those who choose to drive drunk, police say they're ready to offer free rides to jail. This weekend, a national grant is paying for all the police overtime.

"Through funding from the government, we're able to have officer presence. Get more officers out on the road looking for drunk DUIs," said Billingsley."There's no sense in it. There's plenty of other options out there. There's no sense in driving drunk."

Business owners and police say they want everyone to make it home safely.

"More than anything to protect anybody from causing, from hurting themselves or somebody else," Barajas said.

Police said another good idea is to plan ahead when going out and choose a designated driver. They said if you see someone on the road who appears to be driving intoxicated, call 911, because you may be saving a life.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.