The Ridgeland police department is working to crack down on drunk drivers. The city recently received a grant to help fund the effort for the 2018 fiscal year.
The grant is in the amount of $40,321.40 and is from the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety.
“(The Mississippi Office of Highway Safety) receives its funding from the federal government,” said Assistant Chief Eric Redd. “MOHS sends out a notice each year to all agencies within the state of Mississippi, and we prepare and submit an application.”
The Ridgeland police department has “roughly 230” drivers under the influence (DUI) each year, based on numbers from 2015 and 2016, according to Redd. Those numbers do not include DUI with child endangerment.
To catch drunk drivers, the officer usually spots erratic driving. Sometimes roadblocks are used.
“Typically, the officer will see an operator of a vehicle weaving over the lines or make other obvious errors in driving and will stop them based on those actions,” Redd said. “Upon the stop, the officer will smell an intoxicating beverage on the individual or observe other indications that the driver is either under the influence of alcohol or drugs…”
Weaving while standing, red eyes, and mumbling or an inability to speak coherently are some of the main tell-tale signs the officer looks for.
“The officer will offer them a preliminary breath test to determine the presence of alcohol and request the individual to perform a standardized field sobriety test. Our DUI officers are certified in this training.”
The Ridgeland police department also employs road blocks, primarily during holidays and weekends, averaging about two road blocks per quarter. Both methods are successful in catching drunk drives, according to Redd.
“The department currently has two designated DUI officers,” he said.
Although the Ridgeland police department does not have quotas for drunk driving arrests, the $40,000 grant stipulates that the department meets certain goals.
“Our primary objective is ensuring that drunk drivers are taken of the roadways, not only for their own safety, but to keep a driver that is under the influence from injuring or killing other drivers or innocent bystanders,” Redd said.