Mississippi Gulf Coast law enforcement officials and prosecutors say they’re increasing efforts to get drunken drivers off the roads to improve public safety.
District Attorneys Tony Lawrence and Joel Smith announced the creation of a DUI task force last week in a packed courtroom in Ocean Springs. This is a first such a group in the area.
The goal is to keep law enforcement updated on developments in Mississippi law and attorneys updated on strategies to prosecute the cases.
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that from 2008-12, one-third of all traffic fatalities in Mississippi involved alcohol-impaired driving.
The Sun Herald reported that when Lawrence — who prosecutes cases in Jackson, George and Greene counties — was asked what provoked the creation of the DUI task force, he recalled sitting in his office and talking to a man who had held his 8-month-old baby while the baby died after being hit by a drunk driver.
Smith, who prosecutes felonies in Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties, challenged officers and prosecutors to push themselves in this fight.
“We have done great in the past, but the second you feel like you can stop working and that everything is good, that’s when you should retire,” Smith said. “Good is never good enough.”
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