By JB Clark
NEW ALBANY – Sherrel Clark held up pictures of her daughter’s heavily damaged vehicle while she spoke to law enforcement officers during Thursday’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign kickoff.
“The guy driving the other vehicle was 20 years old and had a .30 blood-alcohol content,” she said. “He hit them head-on, went over the top of their car and flipped and skidded. His car came to a stop more than 300 feet from where they collided.”
Clark’s daughter, Tori Cox Plunkett, was pregnant with twins in April 2006 when she was killed by a drunken driver.
Clark’s daughter and future grandchildren weren’t the only family members she lost to drunken driving; 18 years before her daughter’s death, her brother, Marty Cox, was hit by a drunken driver and killed.
Clark, the victim impact panel program coordinator for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is working to influence judges to sentence all DUI offenders to spend time with a victim impact panel.
“The panel is made of people like me whose lives have been impacted by drunk drivers,” she said.
In the meantime she is asking officers to do everything they can to keep intoxicated drivers off the road.
“My whole purpose is to try to convince people, if they’re going to drink, to not get behind the wheel of a car or anything with a motor,” she told the officers during the kickoff luncheon in New Albany.
Aug. 15 marks the beginning of this year’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign, an increased enforcement period that will run until Sept. 1.
In 2013, Lee County was fourth in the state and led Northeast Mississippi in DUI arrests with 1,147, almost twice as many as the next county in the region. The top three counties in the state are Harrison, Jackson and Rankin.
Statewide, alcohol-related car crashes claimed the lives of 179 people in 2012, 19 of those in Northeast Mississippi. Statistics are not available for 2013.
2013 DUI arrests by county
Lee – 1,147
Oktibbeha – 695
Lafayette – 643
Pontotoc – 361
Alcorn – 348
Monroe – 320
Union – 302
Chickasaw – 216
Calhoun – 203
Marshall – 200
Chickasaw – 216
Itawamba – 141
Prentiss – 137
Tippah – 110
Tishomingo – 101
Clay – 97
Benton – 27