State Malt Beverage Association Hopes Drivers Will Think Before They Drink

The battle to keep drunk drivers off the roads used to only be in the hands of law enforcers. But not any more.

The Mississippi Malt Beverage Association joined the fight nearly one year ago when it launched a public awareness campaign. The association will broadcast radio spots during football season emphasizing safe drinking and driving.

It's also catching the eyes of many motorists around the state. Billboards that say things like, "Drink Responsibly," or "Don't Drive Drunk, Use a Designated Driver" are all along Mississippi's roadways.

The messages are part of a half-million dollar campaign sponsored by the Mississippi Malt Beverage Association.

"Drink responsibly, but if you don't, don't drive," association representative Richard Brown said. "Use a designated driver. Get somebody to drive you home. It makes the streets safer for everybody."

According to the Malt Beverage Association, more than 95 percent of the people who use their product do it responsibly. But that percentage isn't good enough for members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They say in 1999, more than 360 people died in Mississippi from an alcohol related crash.

MADD member Danny Berry says the group is supportive of the association's effort, but also a little weary.

"I'm not sure how committed they could be to telling someone to drink responsibly when they are selling what they're telling people to drink responsibly," Berry said.

Eleven of the billboards are located across the state.