Area DUI arrests up in recent years

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Lincoln County authorities say Mississippi Highway Patrol totalsshowing the county with more 875 DUI arrests over the last threeyears are a sign of effective law enforcement efforts.

According to totals for 1997-99, Lincoln County ranked second inthe nine-county MHP Troop M with 877 DUI arrests. The arrestsrepresent the combined efforts of the MHP, Lincoln County Sheriff’sDepartment and the Brookhaven Police Department.

“It’s good in a way that (drunk drivers) are being caught andgotten off the street,” said Lincoln County Sheriff Lynn Boyte.”And it shows the officers are doing their jobs.”

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Arrests by Boyte’s departments showed a steady increase over thethree-year period: from 75 in 1997 to 99 in 1998 to 105 in 1999.With Lincoln County being dry, meaning alcohol comes into thecounty from either the city or from outside, Boyte said the totalsshow officers were “hustling” to keep drunk drivers off theroads.

“Drinking and driving is one of the most deadly things going,”Boyte said. “There’s no doubt about that.”

MHP troopers contributed the highest number of arrests to thelocal DUI totals. Statistics showed troopers making 139 DUI arrestsin 1997, 145 in 1998 and 123 in 1999.

Although there was a dip in 1998, the Brookhaven PoliceDepartment maintained “fairly steady” DUI arrest totals over thethree-year, said Chief Fred McKee. Statistics show police officersmaking 70 DUI arrests in 1997, 49 in 1998 and 72 in 1999.

“Law enforcement is doing a good job,” McKee said about thetotals. “That comes from experience, training and knowing what tolook for.”

MHP Troop M includes Lincoln, Pike, Franklin, Lawrence, Amite,Adams, Jefferson, Walthall and Wilkinson counties.

Of those, law enforcement agencies in Pike County had the mostDUI arrests with 1,172 and Adams County was third with 644. CopiahCounty, which is not part of the MHP district, registered 1,028 DUIarrests over the three-year period.

Despite the local totals, McKee said he had noticed lately thatthe number of second and third offense DUI arrests totals wereup.

“It doesn’t appear people are drinking any less, officers aredoing a better job of apprehending these people,” McKee said.

While some DUI arrests are the result of roadblocks, McKee saidmost are made by observant police officers during normal patrol.Boyte said his department does occasional roadblocks and may needto do more.

“We do it on an as-we-can basis,” Boyte said.

With the holiday season coming up, the sheriff expected lawenforcement agencies to be concentrating on trying to preventdrinking and driving. He said the holidays are a time with drinkingand driving activities normally rise.

Boyte encouraged people to be cautious when the celebrate theseason.

“They need to be careful and not drink and drive,” Boyte said.”Or if they do drink, they need to get a designated driver.”