By Jeremy Weldon
State and local law enforcement agencies will be out in force during the Fourth of July holiday enforcing speed limits, watching for distracted drivers, and trying to keep drunk motorists off roads and highways.
The extra patrol effort began at midnight Monday and will last through midnight Wednesday. During 2017, the Highway Patrol reported three fatalities, 183 crashes, and 100 DUI arrests. That number doesn’t include arrests made by county and city police.
In the effort to reduce traffic accidents, state patrolmen are especially watching for drivers using mobile phones and devices, endangering fellow travelers. There will also be safety checkpoints conducted by the MHP also federal and state highways in North Mississippi, a spokesman said.
Locally, Panola County deputies are planning a series of roadblocks in high traffic areas, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Batesville police are also working extra shifts during the holiday to have higher than usual visibility across the city.
The Sheriff’s Department also reminds riders of ATVs of all kinds that drinking alcohol while operating those types vehicles carries the same penalties as driving a car while intoxicated. Deputies have recently begun to stop off road vehicles when seen riding on public roads due to an increase in accidents, and vandalism and burglaries recently associated with late-night joy riders.
Both county and city officials said they want all Panola Countians to enjoy the Fourth holiday responsibly, and without creating problems for police or fellow citizens.
Firework shooting will be permitted in the county and despite high temperatures there is no burn ban in place this year. In Batesville proper, the shooting of fireworks is governed by an ordinance that permits their discharge from 9 a.m., July 4 to midnight on Thursday July 5.
There will be no city-sponsored firework show again this year, but several churches and local organizations have fireworks planned as part of their celebrations on Wednesday evening.