Article Comment 

DUIs on the rise in Starkville, Columbus

 

Tim Pratt

 

While the number of drunk driving arrests decreased last year across Mississippi, Columbus and Starkville proved to be the exceptions. 

 

The Starkville Police Department arrested 430 people for driving under the influence in 2009, according to statistics released by SPD Chief David Lindley. More people were arrested for driving under the influence in Starkville in 2009 than in any other year in the history of the Starkville Police Department, according to the report. It marked the third straight year the department arrested more than 400 people for DUI, Lindley said, though he had no exact figures for 2007 or 2008.  

 

"I think Starkville has become a more popular destination for socializing and that''s certainly one thing that''s had an effect," Lindley said of the increase. 

 

The Starkville Police Department also hired a fourth full-time DUI enforcement officer to patrol city streets, which could account for the increase in DUI arrests, Lindley acknowledged. But the fourth full-time DUI officer only was hired because of the high number of alcohol-related offenses in the first place, he said. 

 

"The increase in alcohol-related offenses has sparked the need for more DUI officers," Lindley said. "It''s more like one has an effect on the other. They both affect each other. We got another DUI enforcement officer because of the high number of alcohol-related offenses and now the number of DUIs is increasing because we have another DUI officer out there." 

 

The Columbus Police Department arrested 165 people for DUI in 2009, Public Information Officer Terrie Songer said. By comparison, Columbus police only arrested 116 people for DUI in 2008.  

 

So far this year, the CPD has arrested 36 people for driving under the influence. 

 

Songer attributed the increase in DUI arrests last year to the hard work of the Columbus Police Department.  

 

"In my personal opinion, I think it''s a better effort from the police," Songer said. "I think our officers are just being trained better on DUIs. These young officers are gung-ho. I think they''re out there really working hard to get these DUIs." 

 

The number of people arrested by the Oktibbeha County Sheriff''s Department for driving under the influence has been on a steady decline in recent years, Chief Deputy George Carrithers said. In 2009, the OCSD arrested 265 people for DUI, compared to 285 DUI arrests in 2008 and 321 in 2007.  

 

"I would probably credit that to us getting out and stepping up the DUI enforcement over the past few years," Carrithers said. "When you first start out, you have more DUI arrests, but as time goes on they start falling because people know you''re out there working." 

 

The Sheriff''s Department also has maintained a visible presence at the only bar in the county, Cowbell''s Sports Grill, located in the Highlands Plantation community off Highway 182. 

 

"We''ve been seeing a lot more designated drivers," Carrithers said. "They see (the Sheriff''s Department) out there more, they see us out on patrol, so they''re not driving as much. We still stop a lot of cars with drunk people in them, but they''re not driving, which is good. We''d rather them be riding drunk than driving drunk." 

 

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Oktibbeha County Sheriff''s Department had arrested 70 people this year for driving under the influence. By this time last year, the Sheriff''s Department only had arrested 63 people for DUI, Carrithers said. 

 

Attempts to get DUI statistics from the Lowndes County Sheriff''s Office and Mississippi Highway Patrol were unsuccessful.  

 

Across the state, 32,099 people were arrested for DUI in 2009, with 2,145 of those people under age 21, according to statistics provided by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. By comparison, 32,530 people were arrested for DUI in 2008, with 2,615 under age 21. In 2007, 24,851 people were arrested for DUI in Mississippi, with 2,139 under 21. 

 

A Blood Alcohol Content reading of .08 or higher for a person 21 or older is illegal. For a person younger than 21, the legal BAC limit is .02.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment progress commented at 3/18/2010 11:44:00 AM:

We need to get them drunk with the Sunday alcohol sales, which brings in HUGE tax revenues for the cities, then put the DUI officers right outside the places where they drink. As soon as they get out on the road arrest them for DUI! They can get that $1300+ fine and increase that revenue also! This is progress and moving up in the world! I say bust the heck out of those Sunday drunks and bring that money in, all in the name of PROGRESS!!!

 

Article Comment Josh commented at 3/18/2010 11:57:00 AM:

I wondered who would be the first idiot to blame Sunday alcohol sales on this. Sunday alcohol sales didn't event go into effect until the last part of the year so I highly doubt the number of DUI's that were recorded in that time frame was so huge that it put the overall yearly total over the limit.

 

Article Comment progress commented at 3/18/2010 2:59:00 PM:

It is all about revenue raising Josh! Get them drunk, collect all of that extra tax money from the sales, then pull them over and write tickets! Do you not understand how the gov'mnt works? It is cut and dried and all in the name of progress!

 

Article Comment RB commented at 3/18/2010 3:47:00 PM:

Being a parent, I like the idea of the police department getting these drunks off the road. So many innocent people are killed and injured by drunk drivers. As far as the DUI fine is concerned, most of these people don't pay them or their parents pay for them.

 

Article Comment DM commented at 3/18/2010 6:22:00 PM:

Well, "progress", that works for me. I'm not a fan of big government or a lot of things going on now, but anybody who's "f'n retarded" enough to drink and drive deserves to have their money taken away from them. Eventually their rights, too. Maybe then they'll eventually stop doing it, before they take someone else's LIFE away.

It can be the Golden Triangle's very own version of "To Catch A Drunk". Bring in Chris Hansen!

 

Article Comment DJ commented at 3/18/2010 8:42:00 PM:

Okay but what about the fat cat lawyers that get the money by getting these people off? And what about the little guy who can't afford them? They have to pay while those who can don't. They had a DUI officer in West Point making all kinds of arrest and tickets until he gave some to "friends" of friends and then he was gone. Bust them but make them all pay. Don't let the hot shots get them off. They can take lives just like the little guy can.

 

Article Comment bulldawg commented at 3/18/2010 9:13:00 PM:

Know where you're coming from. There use to be this lawyer from West Point they called the DUI lawyer. He was the one you called to get you out of a DUI. He was connected with that strip club up there so he had a pretty good racket going. He got a lot of students out of tickets. Heard he was an offical or judge or something up there now.
Go figure.

 

Article Comment outlaw commented at 3/19/2010 8:08:00 AM:

I wonder what the conviction rate is on all of these arrests? My guess if very low. Every super trooper out there making all of these arrests is out to get anyone and everyone regardless, not to make the streets safer, but to raise revenue and cut backdoor deals. The lawyers and the cops have a great setup... there will be more and more dui arrests year over year... not because there are more drunk drivers, but because of greed.

 

Article Comment bulldawg commented at 3/19/2010 9:23:00 AM:

I know of one guy that got his DUI dropped in West Point and his second one hasn't come to trial yet in over a year. Both are connected to people.

 

Article Comment j commented at 3/19/2010 3:59:00 PM:

POLICE ASK HAVE U BEEN DRINKING EVEN IF THEY ARE PULLING U OVER FOR A HEADLIGHT OR BRAKELIGHT OR NO SEAT BELT I SAY TO HELL WITH THESE FAKE COPS THEY NEED TO BE ARRESTED THEM SELVES HALF OF THEM ARE DRUNKS ANYWAY I CANT WAIT TO MOVE OUT OF THIS HELL HOLE THEY CALL COLUMBUS, MS THEY NEED TO BE MORE FOCUSED ON THE DRUNKS THAT ARE DRIVING WREKLESS NOT THE ONES WHO HAVE HAD 2 OR 3 BEERS AND THEY SMELL ALCOHOL COLUMBUS POLICE ARE A JOKE

 

Article Comment j commented at 3/19/2010 4:02:00 PM:

wreckless...... for some one trying to prove a point

 

Article Comment HMMMM commented at 3/19/2010 9:40:00 PM:

Tickets from county, city and highway patrol. Up in Columbus and Starkville..Crack down. How many tickets are given for the area around the strip club? How many are processed? They drink they drive and yet a very very low number of tickets. Could it have anything to do with the lawyer for that place being a judge in West Point, or so we are told. Ever think about that? Why not that place? Who protects it? Guess it might have connections? If some have to pay why not all. Bust this group too.

 

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