NASHVILLE — In preparation for this weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day holiday, the Tennessee Highway Patrol is gearing up for a statewide DUI enforcement campaign with more than 50 sobriety and driver license checkpoints planned across the state. The 2012 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period begins at midnight, Saturday, March 17th and ends at 11:59 p.m., Sunday March 18th.
“We take traffic safety enforcement seriously throughout the year and especially on holidays,” Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. “St. Patrick’s Day has become a popular holiday for many Americans to celebrate with friends and family. We want to remind all citizens to act responsibly, obey the rules of the road, and never drink and drive.”
In Tennessee, three people were killed during the 2011 St. Patrick’s Holiday period, and one fatality was alcohol-related. There were 99 crash fatalities nationwide on St. Patrick’s Day in 2010, according to statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Out of that number, 24 people were killed in traffic crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcyclist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
“DUI enforcement is one of the most important duties of our agency,” THP Colonel Tracy Trott said. “We have a responsibility to keep the roadways safe, and State Troopers will be working around the clock to make sure that violators are caught and roadways are safe this St. Patrick’s Day period.”
During last year’s St. Patrick’s Day enforcement period, the THP made 18 impaired driving arrests statewide. Since January 1, 2012, State Troopers have arrested 1,106 DUI violators, a 47.3 percent increase from the 751 arrests made at this same time a year ago.
The THP will be conducting bar checks, saturation patrols and driver license and sobriety checkpoints in an effort to reduce alcohol-related fatalities and serious injury crashes this weekend. In 2011, preliminary statistics indicate that 945 people died on Tennessee roadways, a decline of 8.4 percent, compared to 1,032 fatalities in 2010.
A list of safe driving tips is included below. Scheduled checkpoints for the St. Patrick’s Holiday are attached, as well as statistical data for St. Patrick’s Day 2011.