By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
The Mississippi Highway Patrol rolled out three new weapons Thursday in the fight against drunken driving.
The BAT mobiles, which stands for Breath Alcohol Testing vehicles, were introduced just in time for spring break and will hit the highways immediately.
The mobile DUI units will allow troopers to administer more definitive on-the-spot breath alcohol testing.
Lt. Col. Donnell Berry said the new vehicles will mean a driver will have less time to sober up by the time he or she is retested at the jail, which will potentially mean more convictions.
Troop H Trooper Brian Mobley said having the new BAT mobiles will benefit motorists and troopers.
“Our DUI death numbers decreased last year because of all the extra hours we spent out looking for impaired drivers,” said Mobley. “But with this new equipment we have added another tool to help fight against impaired drivers.”
With the BAT vehicles in place, MHP and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety expect to continue a trend of decreasing accident deaths that started five years ago.
In 2005, nearly 1,000 people were killed on Mississippi’s roads. The preliminary 2009 numbers show 699 deaths, a 25 percent reduction. Nearly 245 of those were alcohol related.
“A 25 percent reduction in that amount of time is nothing short of incredible,” said Kim Proctor, director of the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety.
The BAT mobiles will be part of special details to increase DUI sobriety checkpoints and place more troopers in areas of the state with a high number of alcohol-related crashes.
The BAT vehicles were purchased with federal funds from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration for use in the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s sustained DUI enforcement efforts.