Holiday DUIs fall statewide, rise in county
from staff and wire reports
Dec. 27, 2002
Mississippi highway patrol officers arrested fewer people during the 30-hour Christmas holiday period this year on charges that they were driving under the influence of alcohol.
But while DUIs were down statewide state troopers arrested 32 this year compared to 145 last year Lauderdale County saw its numbers jump slightly.
The Christmas holiday period began Tuesday at 6 p.m. and ended at midnight Wednesday. The 30-hour period saw just one fatal accident, a man who died in Hinds County on Christmas.
Maj. Ward Calhoun, spokesman for the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department, said Thursday that sheriff's deputies made four DUI arrests Christmas Eve and Christmas.
Detective Deano Harper with the Meridian Police Department said DUI arrest figures were unavailable Thursday. Calhoun, though, said the county had logged five DUI arrests from the MPD.
No other DUI arrests were logged by any other law enforcement agency in Lauderdale County.
Last year's arrests
Compared to last Christmas, Lauderdale County DUI arrests were up slightly. Last year, deputies made two DUI arrests; for Christmas 2000, they made six DUI arrests.
Sheriff's deputies conducted sobriety checkpoints on Lauderdale County roads Saturday night and Monday afternoon and will do more of them for the New Year's holiday.
Warren Strain, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said that besides making DUI arrests, the Highway Patrol investigated one accident in which alcohol was involved.
Strain attributed the fall in DUIs to a shorter holiday period than last year's 41/2-day Christmas holiday and to a federally funded advertising campaign to discourage drinking and driving.
The campaign provided $475,000 in overtime pay for stepped-up patrols. An average of 63 additional troopers will be on Mississippi's highways each day from Dec. 20 through Jan. 4, Strain said.
Troopers wrote a total of 2,338 tickets this Christmas holiday and investigated 150 accidents.
In the sole holiday-period traffic fatality, Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin said George McCarter, 47, of Bolton, died when he lost control of his van and rolled into a ditch on a western Hinds County Road.
An unidentified passenger was unhurt in the accident.
Strain said troopers are preparing for the next holiday period that begins at 6 p.m. on New Year's Eve and runs through midnight on New Year's Day.
There were nine fatalities, 143 DUI arrests and 6,926 tickets written by the patrol during last year's 41/2-day New Year's holiday period.