Making holiday highways safe

HOUSTON – In this season of good cheer, motorist are being reminded not to have too much.

The Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Department, Houston Police Department and the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol are reminding motorist not to drink and drive this Holiday season.

“We all know it’s the holiday season and people usually drink a little more at this time of year,” said Chickasaw County Chief Deputy James Myers. “But that is no excuse to drink and drive.”

Myers urged the community to drink responsibly and make good choices this Christmas and New Years.

“If you choose drink you also need to choose not to drive and endanger your life or the life of someone else,” said Myers. “It is too easy to pick a designated driver or to call a friends or family member if you’ve had too many to drink.”

Myers also reminded the community that party hosts have a responsibility not to let their guests get behind the wheel of a car if they have been drinking.

So how many drinks does it take to reach the legal limit in Mississippi?

That number varies from person to person and while there are calculators and charts that can serve as a reference, however these devices cannot predict with 100-percent accuracy, all of the variables that contribute to your Blood Alcohol Content score.

But Myers said he could tell you the cost if you are caught drinking and driving.

“The fine for a DUI conviction is about $700 and insurance and court costs bump it up to about $2,000,” said Myers. “We usually keep a drunk driver in jail about four to five hours so they can sober up.”

If convicted the driver can lose their license for 90-days.

A second DUI conviction can prompt from five days to a year in jail, a $600 to $1,500 fine and a suspended license for up to two years.

Myers said a third conviction is a felony and a person can be jail for up to a year.

“We will be working safety checkpoints this holiday and if you are caught drinking and driving you will go to jail,” said Myers. “It’s not about taking people to jail as much as it is about making the roads safe for everyone else.”

Last year more than 29,500 people were charged with impaired driving. That’s an average of 81 arrests per day. Of those arrested, more than 1,800 were under the age of 21.

“I have worked my share of drunk driving fatalities,” said Myers. “To have to go and tell someone their family member is dead because of drunk driver is awful any time of year, but more so during the holiday’s.

“I beg people every year not to drink and drive during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday,” said Myers. “I hope people will listen this year.”