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DUIs in the single digits as 2011 rolls in

By Krystal Allan – bio | email 

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – Uneventful isn’t the word most people want use to describe their holiday weekend.  But, when it comes the roadways and DUI’s, it means the new year is off to a good start.

According to the Mississippi Highway Patrol, troopers made just one DUI arrest, as of Sunday afternoon, in the six lower counties during the holiday weekend.

Coast police departments also reported DUIs in the single digits.  Sergeant Jackie Rhodes of the Biloxi police department says Biloxi police made four DUI arrests over the holiday weekend. One resulted in a single-car crash.

“I think the reason for (the low numbers) is people are taking what we’re saying to heart and getting a designated driver,” says Rhodes.

Rhodes admits there were factors beyond law enforcement’s control that helped this holiday weekend.  There was the threat of severe weather and a shorter holiday weekend.  However, he says the numbers are still trending in a downward direction.

“Even including the weather conditions and the shorter amount of days people had to celebrate the New Year’s, I believe that we are pacing at a lower level. I think that’s primarily due to the campaign that law enforcement nationwide is putting out,” Rhodes says.

The “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” campaign started the Friday before Christmas.  Law enforcement statewide and locally say the low DUI numbers point to drivers making smarter decisions. But, Master Sergeant Johnny Poulus of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, says the economy could also be playing a factor.

“Keep in mind people just don’t have the money when a DUI arrest is involved to hire an attorney,” Poulus says.

Rhodes echoes the sentiment.

“Taxi is $25 and DUI arrest is $1,000 plus losing your license and stuff,” Rhodes says.

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