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DUI’s Impact Lives: Why the MHP Isn’t Going to Let You Get Away With It

JACKSON, Miss.–Imagine you hear a knock at your front door and it’s two Highway Patrolmen telling you your son has been killed. It happened in 2007 to Etoile Frazier and her husband when their son John Michael was killed by a drunk driver. Now she’s doing everything she can to convince people that drinking and getting behind the wheel is one of the worst things you could do.

“I saw them hand John Michael’s driver’s license to my husband,” she said. “It’s like a blur. I heard them say ‘we hate to inform you that he has been killed’ and my husband fell on his knees to the floor.”

What happened to their family impacted them so much that Frazier said she still shudders when there’s a knock at the door.

She spoke at a Dept. of Public Safety press conference Friday.

The message from the Highway Patrol is that drinking and riving kills and they’re not going to let you get away with it. That’s why they’re ramping up patrols during the Labor Day holiday, a time when DUIs seem to be at their peak. Thirty-four people died on Mississippi roads during the holiday in 2012, said Albert Santa Cruz, DPS executive director.

“I’ve got nothing against a person drinking,” he said. “But, you need to drink at home or have a designated driver.”

While it is estimated that a DUI conviction can end up costing you about $10,000, Santa Cruz, a former patrolman, said if you end up hurting or maming someone, the financial costs can still have an impact fr years to come.

“The long range results, not the money, but the agony of killing someone will stay with you the rest of your life,” he said.

Frazier testified to that effect.

“I met him in court,” she said of the man who killed her son. “He denied being drunk. He’s serving his time. I told him in court that hopefully he would have time to reflect and get his life together.”

Frazier was a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving before the wreck. She said she never dreamed she would need their support system.

Col. Donnell Berry, head of the Highway Patrol said troopers will be out 27/7, without days off, and will be able to catch you if you are driving drunk. They know the signs if you’ve decided to have a drink and get behind the wheel.

Santa Cruz said he is confident that increases in troopers and safety checkpoints have saved lives.

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