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Troopers start holiday DUI blitz

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Law enforcement officers in the state have beefed up patrols in anticipation of heavy traffic during the holiday season.

Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol initiated its DUI blitz this week, deploying extra officers on state roads. The crackdown runs through Jan. 3.

While MHP will have checkpoints across the state to check for drivers who have had a few, it also will be on the lookout for reckless drivers and seat belt violations.

Jackson Police Department started its drunken-driving blitz Thursday, the same day MHP’s began.

“We’re looking at peak hours when people are out normally drinking, at parties and holiday events,” said spokeswoman Colendula Green.

During last year’s Christmas/New Year’s holiday season, MHP gave out more than 13,000 tickets, with 235 DUI arrests, said Jon Kalahar, spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

“With more people off work and schools out, there are more on the roads,” Kalahar said. “And we are just making sure we’re keeping those roads safe.”

So will Rankin County Sheriff’s Department in its county.

“Come the last of December, we will have safety check points and officers out in full force that weekend,” Sheriff Ronnie Pennington said referring to the New Year’s holiday.

Ridgeland Police kicked off their increased patrol shortly after Thanksgiving, said Ridgeland Police spokesman Lt. John Neal.

“During the week between Christmas and New Years, officers will be on heightened alert for impaired drivers as this is the time of the year for increased celebrations,” Neal said.

Ridgeland Police increased normal patrol numbers by five officers whose main focus is on the busy areas in the city limits, Neal said.

“One of our areas of concentration is on the high traffic areas of County Line, Old Canton, (U.S.) Highway 51, Lake Harbor and the Highland Colony Parkway area” he said.

Hinds County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Steve Pickett said having a zero fatality holiday “is the best holiday for us.”

“Too many families are affected by an alcohol-related death,” he said.

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