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JACKSON, Miss. (Press Release) — Fourth of July is a favorite holiday for many Americans as families and friends gather to celebrate our country with food, parades, parties, and fireworks. For many people, the celebration includes alcohol, but the holiday quickly goes from festive to fatal when people choose to drive after drinking.

Over the July 4 holiday in 2012, 78 people were killed in drunk driving crashes on our nation’s roads. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) would like to urge those celebrating this Independence Day to exercise caution and use good judgment for a safe holiday.

“Mississippi law officials are ramping up their enforcement to make our roads safer this Fourth of July,” said Lieutenant Johnny Poulos of Mississippi Highway Patrol. “For everyone’s sake, don’t drink and drive, so that all motorists make it safely to their destinations. Many people don’t realize how a DUI can affect your finances and career, so we urge you to celebrate responsibly.”

Data shows that the Fourth of July holiday period is especially deadly. During the July 4 holiday in 2012 (6 p.m. on July 3 to 5:59 a.m. on July 5), there were 179 people killed in crashes, and 44 percent of those crashes were alcohol-impaired. Drunk drivers are more common at night, too. Over the same period in 2012, more than a third (39 percent) of the drivers in nighttime fatal crashes (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) were alcohol-impaired, as compared to 16 percent of drivers in fatal crashes during the day.

“This Fourth of July, you can show your patriotism by helping to make Mississippi roads safer for everyone,” said Melinda McGrath, MDOT Executive Director. “Taking a few minutes to plan a safe ride before the celebration begins can help save lives.”

Making the choice to celebrate responsibly this Independence Day helps make the holiday safer for everyone. Keep in mind that aside from putting your life and the lives of others at risk, driving impaired can also lead to other serious consequences. A DUI arrest can mean time in jail, loss of your license, and steep financial expenses; the average DUI costs about $10,000.

MDOT recommends these simple tips to prevent drunk driving:

  • Plan a safe way home before the fun begins and designate a sober driver before drinking
  • If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation
  • If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact local law enforcement
  • If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

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