Road sign memorializes DUI victims

Published 10:22 am Friday, May 11, 2012

| Brennan Leathers

Drivers along U.S. Highway 27 South near Attapulgus may have noticed a new sign recently, around Mile Marker 8.

The sign, which is blue and has a white Georgia map in the center, features the names of two sisters — the late Joy and Jessica Alexander. They were among the five victims of a two-car crash in April 2011.

The Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s DUI Memorial Fund offers a program where the next of kin to victims of vehicular homicide, caused by someone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, can request that the Department of Transportation erect a sign at the crash site. The next of kin must submit an application to the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program, and if deemed eligible, the DOT will produce and erect the sign, at no cost to the family member.

Shelia Alexander Sheppard, the mother of the late Joy and Jessica Alexander, applied for the program and was approved. The sign was placed April 12, and will remain there for five years, she said.

“I went and watched them put it up,” she said. “It was hard, but the one thing that makes me feel good is that people will be aware of the dangers of driving under the influence.

“I hope that people will see that sign and think twice about getting behind the wheel when they’re intoxicated. I hope they realize that it takes lives — and it could be your life, or the lives of loved ones.

“I just hope they think before they take that first drink.”

According to the eligibility requirements for the DUI memorial sign program, family members of the person(s) charged with driving under the influence, that caused the accident, are not eligible to place a sign. Also, the DOT is only authorized to place signs on roads that are considered a part of the state highway system.

For more information about the program, visit online at cjcc.ga.gov or call (404) 657-2222.