By Ashley Conroy - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT)- Friday marked the 5th annual "DUI 100 Awards" where deputies, troopers, and police officers from around the state were recognized for their efforts to issue more than 100 citations.
Of the 700 fatality crashes that happened in 2009, 245 of those were from drunk drivers.
Forty officers were inducted in the 100 DUI Club, 3 were inducted in the 200 DUI Club, and 2 officers into the 300 DUI Club.
Officer Jason Pitts from the Hattiesburg Police Department says it's the lives saved that he's most concerned about.
"There's 324 people that I possibly saved from having a wreck or causing a fatality or killing someone else."
From 2008 to 2009, fewer Mississippians were killed in DUI related crashes. Mississippi Highway Patrol Commissioner, Steve Simpson says this number is still too high.
"Clearly 245 alcohol related deaths is still too many and we're going to continue to strive to reduce that number."
Keynote Speaker Sherrel Clark shared her story of her 21-year-old daughter, Tory Cox-Plunkett being killed by a drunk driver.
Plunkett was married and pregnant with twins. Her husband was in the vehicle with her at the time of the accident and survived. The man who struck them was under 21 years old and was also killed in the crash.
Her daughter's death devastated her and now she hopes to spread the message of the dangers of driving under the influence to as many people as possible.
"And I don't want any mother be it the innocent person or the drunk driver's parents to have to bury somebody that they love."
To help reduce DUI offenders, this year MHP will start using mobile breathlizer units to instantly test a potential intoxicated driver on the scene rather than transporting that person back to the jail.
Officials say this will produce more accurate results because the body will have "less" time to process the alcohol in the blood stream.
Harrison County Officer, Justin Braning says he has assisted in several DUI fatalities. To him, these accidents are the most devastating.
"There's always extra gore, extra damage, extra injury, I mean... it's, it's scary."
In 2009, 32,099 DUI arrests were issued and 2,145 of those were under the age of 21.
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