Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons and Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott today announced plans for a “No Refusal” enforcement campaign during the Labor Day holiday weekend. This special enforcement will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 30 and conclude at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, September 2.
The “No Refusal” enforcement will be conducted in 11 counties across the state, and is aimed at deterring impaired driving and reducing fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways. The “No Refusal” legislation allows law enforcement officials to seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers.
“The ultimate goal is to save lives on Tennessee roadways. This targeted ‘No Refusal’ enforcement gives law enforcement and prosecutors another tool to hold drunk drivers accountable,” Commissioner Gibbons said.
The participating “No Refusal” counties include Roane (Knoxville District); Marion, McMinn, Meigs and Sequatchie (Chattanooga District); Rutherford (Nashville District); Fayette (Memphis District); Carter (Fall Branch District); Putnam (Cookeville District); Giles (Lawrenceburg District); and Henry County (Jackson District).
During the 2012 Labor Day holiday, 12 people were killed in 11 fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways. That’s the same as the 11 vehicular fatalities in 2010. Last year, alcohol was involved in two of the fatalities, and 64 percent of vehicle occupants killed were not wearing safety restraints.
“DUI is one of the categories targeted throughout the year and especially during the holidays,” Colonel Trott said. “During this ‘No Refusal’ campaign, we will focus our resources on specific areas and high-crash corridors across the state. Our high-visibility enforcement effort, which includes saturation patrols, bar and tavern checks and sobriety checkpoints, will help remove impaired drivers from the Tennessee roadways.”
Colonel Trott also noted the number of DUI arrests made by State Troopers in 2013. Troopers have arrested 3,728 individuals for impaired driving from January 1 through August 24, 2013. In 2012, the number of arrests made during that time was 3,414. That’s a nine percent increase during the same dates.
In Tennessee, the preliminary number of alcohol-related crashes has decreased 9.2 percent through the first seven months of 2013, compared to that same time period last year. From January through July of 2013, there have been 3,904 crashes involving impaired drivers. That is 361 fewer than the 4,265 crashes during those same dates in 2012.
Seat belt usage is another contributing factor in crashes across the state. To date this year, 49 percent of vehicle occupants killed in crashes were not wearing safety restraints.
Overall, as of August 27, 2013, preliminary statistics indicate 630 people have died on Tennessee roadways, a decrease of nearly eight percent compared to the 684 fatalities at this same time last year.