It's been said that drunken driving deaths are not accidents but carelessness. Last year more than 17,000 people were killed in alcohol related accidents while half a million other people were injured in such accidents.
With extra law enforcement on roadways, officials in the twin states are warning motorists about the other consequences of drinking and driving.
"Not only the fines and court costs but now since we have the law that requires mandatory insurance, if you have a DUI and you have mandatory insurance it's going to be extremely high. You're not only going to pay one time but you're going to pay over a number of years," says Troop H Captain Jon Howard with the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
Nationally the legal age for drinking is 21. Meanwhile in Mississippi and Alabama a person is declared legally drunk when his or her blood alcohol level reaches .08.
While the buzz of a few drinks may last for a night, MADD officials want drivers to remember that the pain of losing a loved one to drunk driving last for a lifetime.
Within the last 20 years two relatives of local MADD president Pam Vance have been killed by drunk drivers.
"This is not something that affects just one person. It trickles down and affects the whole family. So, we just are asking people to be considerate of others and not drink and drive."
In hopes of preventing alcohol-related tragedies this holiday the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is offering free rides for drivers who need it. The number to call is 693-MADD.
"Don't consider that call making you weak, consider it a strong point because at least you'll be here to see tomorrow," says Vance.
Drinking and Driving
Drinking and driving don't mix. Drinking and driving don't mix. Drinking and driving don't mix.
No matter how many times you've heard it, there are people who just don't get it. In fact, every 30 minutes, someone in this country dies in an alcohol-related crash. Every 30 minutes! And last year alone over one million people were injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes.
Tell everyone: kids, parents and all licensed drivers, why no one should drive a car, or ride in a car with someone who is under the effects of alcohol. It just doesn't make sense.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT DRINKING AND DRIVING
How does alcohol affect a person's ability to drive?
The more a person drinks, the more their ability to make crucial driving decisions becomes impaired. After just one drink, a driver can begin to lose their ability to perform the tasks necessary to drive a car: braking, steering, changing lanes, and using judgment to adjust to changing road conditions. At a certain point, a driver will become legally intoxicated and can be arrested for attempting to operate a motor vehicle.
What does DUI and DWI mean?
DUI means "Driving under the Influence" of alcohol or drugs. DWI means "Driving While Intoxicated". These are terms used by police. In every state in our country there is a legal limit to how much alcohol you can have in your body if you are driving. If you drink and drive you can lose your driver's license and even go to jail.
How do you Measure how much Alcohol is in the Blood?
A driver's Blood Alcohol Content is measured by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood. Police test breath to measure a drivers BAC. It can also be tested in blood, urine or saliva. (Yuck!)
What can you do about drunk driving?
- Follow these suggestions from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Your best defense against a drunk driver is to wear your safety belt, make sure any children in the car are in child safety seats.
- Never ride in a car operated by someone who has been drinking - call a cab or ask a friend to drive you home.
- Report drunk drivers to law enforcement from a car phone or pay phone.
- Keep a safe distance from anyone driving erratically.
Source: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/kids/research/drinking/index.cfm contributed to these tips.