Law enforcement send warning to drunk drivers - - Jackson, MS

259 DUI citations issued over July 4th weekend

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

It's typical on holiday weeks for law enforcement officers to see more traffic and accidents, but officials say the July 4th holiday was especially busy statewide. 

The Mississippi Highway Patrol reports there have been more than 8,700 citations issued statewide during the enforcement period that started Wednesday evening. Officials add that 259 of those were citations for Driving Under the Influence.

There were four fatalities across the state due to traffic accidents. Several serious accidents led to sudden traffic jams, which led to more minor accidents.

Officials with MHP say the increase in numbers during the July 4th holiday can be attributed to a number of things.

"The way the holiday fell last year, it was a two day enforcement period. The way it fell this year, it was a  five day enforcement period, starting 6 p.m. on Wednesday and it doesn't end until midnight Sunday, so it was a longer enforcement period," explained Jason Gazzo with MHP.

One of the largest checkpoints took place on the interstate in Madison County Friday night involving six law enforcement agencies.

"You know if someone comes through breaking the law, you know, they're gonna see all of us out here," said Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol Cpl. Odis Easterling. 

State troopers, along with Jackson, Ridgeland, and Madison police departments and Hinds and Madison County Sheriff's deputies participated in the multiple checkpoints.

They were set up at the I-220 and I-55 interchange in Madison County and at Hanging Moss Road on I- 220. Officers were also waiting on the exits.

People were on the side of the road in handcuffs. One woman found herself in trouble and had to leave a friend behind.

Even children had to find another way home when their driver was put in the back seat of a patrol car. Officials report 20 DUI arrests were made at the checkpoints.

"Law enforcement is most effective when we all work together as a team. We're one big team," said Madison County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jeremy Williams.

With each stop, the agencies are looking for a valid license and insurance card, along with drugs and drunk drivers. Those arrested had their vehicles towed.

With a big presence on a busy interstate, law enforcement know drivers were warning others by flashing their lights.

"It may be that driver that you're warning is gonna go down the street and run into someone in your family. From me to them, 'don't do it.' If you get caught doing it, you know, that's a crime as well," said Easterling.

He later went on to explain that flashing your lights at other drivers is considered interfering with the duties of a law enforcement officer.

Social media is also used to warn others about the sea of blue lights on the highway, while officers work to be a deterrent in keeping the roads safe this holiday weekend.

"We always run into that. People, you know, making calls, sending text messages. Luckily we've set it up on both sides of the highway here," said Williams.

Law enforcement officers conducted more checkpoints over the July 4th holiday weekend in the Metro.

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