After more than 10 years of declining, the number of people killed by drunk drivers is once again on the rise.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 40 percent of all traffic fatalities are alcohol related. MADD officials have now tagged drunk driving as the most frequently committed violent crime.
"This is the one preventable crime," said Brenda Snowden, president of Lauderdale County's MADD chapter. "People drink and then they choose to get behind the wheel of a car and drive. So, it's totally preventable."
Both preventable and costly.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol-related crashes cost the public $114.7 billion annually. To address this problem, some local law enforcement officials are praising a newly passed ordinance by Lauderdale County supervisors that makes it easier to arrests juveniles who drink and drive.
"If the breath reveals alcoholic beverage content of any nature, we can make an arrest under the county ordinance," said Sgt. Frankie Springer. "It doesn't necessarily have to register .02, just any revelation of alcoholic beverage we can make an arrest."
Meanwhile, local MADD officials want to leave this message with motorists.
"We are not telling people, don't drink, because that's not our right," Snowden said. "We're telling them don't drink and drive."
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