For area law enforcement agents, the aggressive holiday enforcement campaign isn’t about creating hardships for motorists.
It’s about avoiding a nightmarish situation. It’s about preventing officers from having to make that call telling someone that a person they love is dead.
“We are trying to prevent loved ones from going to another funeral,” Lt. David Frye with the Chattanooga Police Department said Friday.
During the New Year’s Eve period, two counties from each of the eight THP districts will participate in the No Refusal Campaign.
They are Knox and Sevier (Knoxville District); Hamilton and Marion (Chattanooga District); Robertson and Wilson (Nashville District); Crockett and Tipton (Memphis District); Carter and Greene (Fall Branch District); Cumberland and Overton (Cookeville District); Bedford and Maury (Lawrenceburg District); and Chester and Carroll (Jackson District).
A UTC student was the 1,002nd person killed in a car accident in Tennessee this year.
Officials said Friday that 2012 was a tough year for vehicle fatalities.
As of Friday, there were 72 more deaths in 2012 compared to 2011.
So, local and state authorities launched an aggressive No Refusal DUI enforcement campaign Friday that runs through the end of the year, aimed at preventing any more deaths this year.
Through Jan. 1 at midnight, local police officers, sheriffs' deputies and state troopers will be aggressively looking for impaired drivers. They will also be enforcing seat belt and no-texting laws.
In July, leaders passed the No Refusal Law, which means that law enforcement officials can seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers. So, essentially, a driver cannot refuse the test.
No Refusal is the latest law enforcement strategy meant to deter impaired driving and reduce fatal crashes on state roadways, officials said.
Officials have also conducted No Refusal weekends on holidays such as the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving.
Law enforcement agencies conducted checkpoints throughout the county all weekend and saturated area highways and interstates. They said the cooperation between law enforcement agencies is essential because individual departments don't have the resources to do this sort of campaign alone.
On Saturday, state troopers stopped several people on U.S. Highway 27 South.
Law enforcement agents working this weekend were paid overtime, which is supported by a grant, officials said Friday.
Last year, over the New Year’s Eve weekend, five people died in car accidents. Three of those were not wearing seat belts.
Sixty percent of those were alcohol-related accidents, officials said Friday.
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In 2012, 52.4 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities were from unrestrained vehicle occupants in Tennessee, officials also said.
And alcohol-related crashes are on the rise across the state, leaders said.
So far this year, there have been 7,567 alcohol crashes.
That’s 182 more—a 2.5 percent increase—over this time last year, officials said.
Every day in the United States, nearly 30 people die in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s injury prevention and control statistics.
Annually, that costs more than $51 billion a year, also according to the CDC.
“The bottom line is it must stop,” Brian Hickman, chief of police at Collegedale Police Department, said Friday.