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Mississippi Police Gearing Up For Holiday Weekend

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 30 Jun 2011 03:52pm | comments
Corporal Odis Easterling

The Fourth of July is Monday, setting up a long three day weekend for most Mississippians. Last year, officers around the state made more than 32-thousand DUI arrests. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that more cops will out in force trying to keep Mississippi roads safe.

The fourth of July is a popular holiday for grilling, parties and, for some, alcohol.

Highway Patrol Corporal Odis Easterling says a visible police presence is a powerful deterrent against drinking and driving.

"Whether it is actually on the side of the road behind another car with the lights on or just sitting in the median, whichever way, people have a tendency to try and straighten up when they see a patrol car and that is a wonderful thing and we know that. So presence is always going to be your first line of defense," Easterling said.

Alcohol was a factor in more than 230 fatal car crashes in Mississippi last year and Easterling says increased patrols save lives.

Caroline Newkirk with Dream INC.....an alcohol and substance abuse prevention group based in Jackson.....says many adults underestimate how intoxicated they are when they decide to drive after a party.

"We have a couple of drinks or a few too many  but we don't recognize that we have had a few too many and we think 'oh I can drive home. Sure, no problem'. And our capabilities have been impacted because of that alcohol and our reaction times are slowed. Leading to a whole host of problems," Newkirk said.

Newkirk says adults who plan on drinking need to be responsible and plan a way home in advance.

That could be especially important this holiday because, says triple-A spokesman Don Redman, more Mississippians are expected to spend the weekend close to home.

"Overall, we are projecting, at least nationwide, a decrease of about 2.5% of those who will be traveling this Fourth of July holiday versus last year. And it is due largely to that fact that gasoline prices have been so high for so long," Redman said.

Still, nearly 40-million Americans will travel for the holiday and the vast majority will do so by car....meaning the roads will be crowded and potentially dangerous for drivers and passengers alike.

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Corporal Odis Easterling


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