Zero tolerance for drunk drivers this holiday season

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - For Gulfport Police, zero tolerance is the rule for drunk drivers this holiday season.

"We will not tolerate an impaired driver," says Sergeant Damon McDaniel, with the Gulfport Police Department Traffic Division.

Police are unleashing some new tools in their arsenal to make good on their warning.

"We have a mobile intoxilyzer trailer we call it Blood Alcohol Trailer the 'BAT trailer.'  We use that in a lot of our checkpoints throughout the city," says McDaniel. "We also have a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe that's also equipped with an Intoxilyzer 8000 in it."

The two mobile units cut down the processing time by nearly half when officers are on check-points. In house, they have another Intoxiler 8000, but their efforts aren't just limited to DUI enforcement tools.

McDaniel says, "What we try to do is recruit patrol officers that will be off duty, and then we get them to assist with the DUI enforcement campaign.  This will add maybe 10 or 15 additional officers that we may put on the street."

As for the campaign, police say arresting more people isn't always the best way to judge the success of their efforts.

"You never can say what's a good number for DUI arrests; you just say what's a good weekend when you don't have them," says McDaniel.

McDaniel says police aren't trying to keep people from having a good time; they're just trying to help them end the year on a high note.

"Why end your 2008 with an arrest, an accident and possibly a death? Does it have to be you? No," McDaniel says.

Here's another reason to get a designated driver if you plan on drinking. WLOX talked with some local taxi companies. They say many of the bars and companies that hire them to provide free rides from holiday events aren't booking this year.