Down came the number 405. Up went the number 410. Since January first, Gulfport police have made 410 DUI arrests. And they've all been posted on a new sign at Courthouse Road and Highway 90.
Gulfport police officer Joe Langenbacker looked at the DUI sign and said, "That number is way too high."
Langenbacker thinks the sign could teach a sobering lesson to coast residents. "That's why we put the sign up here," the police officer said, "to let everyone in Gulfport know, and anyone traveling the coast roads, that our DUI number is high."
How high is the number? Here's what 410 drunk driving arrests in the first 140 days of the year added up to. Just in Gulfport, an average of 2.9 people a day went to jail because they got caught allegedly drinking and driving.
Langenbacker said part of that is due to police tactics. "Enforcement is here," he said. "Our objective is to take the DUI driver off the road."
Drunk driving is more than a coast concern. It's a problem on roads throughout the country. In 1999, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 15,786 people died in alcohol related car accidents. The year before, Mothers Against Drunk Driving found that 1% of all licensed drivers were charged with driving under the influence.
Now, the people charged with DUI in Gulfport can see their arrests added to a tote board. Under the tote board total is a sign that says "some people never learn." Police hope the DUI sign reminds people to think before they drink and then hit the road.