DUIs are falling

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2014

 Instances of DUI arrests have declined since Picayune was declared a resort area.

Since Picayune became a resort area, which means food establishments can sell liquor by the drink, some alcohol related crimes have decreased, as opposed to increasing, while others have remained steady.

Picayune Police Assistant Chief Jeremy Magri said while there appears to be a steady number of arrests for the charges of public drunk and possession of bonded whiskey, instances of other alcohol related charges are dropping.

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“We’ve noticed a significant decrease in DUI’s and a minor decrease in open beer,” Magri said.

According to statistics from the Picayune Police Department, in 2009 the department conducted 233 DUI arrests.

In contrast, in 2013, two years after the law was enacted, there were only 72 DUI arrests.

Instances of open beer have also declined, said Magri. The statistics show that in 2009 there were 150 open beer arrests while in 2013, there were 87 open beer arrests.

However, instances of public drunk and possession of bonded whiskey have remained pretty much the same.

In 2009 the department conducted 119 public drunk arrests and 56 possession of bonded whiskey arrests. In 2013, those numbers were 121 and 44 respectively, Magri said.

So far this year there have been 35 DUI arrests, 41 public drunk, 13 possession of bonded whiskey and 28 open beer arrests by the department, Magri said.

“We haven’t seen crime increase due to it becoming a resort area,” Magri said.

Chief Bryan Dawsey said he has also noticed a decline in the number of arrests, especially with DUI’s, which affects how much grant funding the department receives.

Since the number of DUI arrests had declined the funding was reduced, Dawsey said. In 2007 the department received enough funding to pay two full-time DUI officers, this year they only received enough to pay for overtime of conducting holiday checkpoints and conduct some proactive patrol, Dawsey said.

This year the department was issued $26,386 in DUI grant funding, Dawsey said.

“The DUI funding was to allow us to show strong enforcement to decrease alcohol related incidents, and it appears to have worked,” Magri said.

Statistics from 2010 to 2012 are:

— 2010: 241 DUIs, 130 open beer, 173 public drunk and 50 bonded whiskey arrests.

— 2011: 146 DUIs, 106 open beer, 150 public drunk and 35 bonded whiskey arrests.

— 2012: 164 DUIs, 111 open beer, 107 public drunk and 55 bonded whiskey arrests.