A No Refusal Campaign will be enforced during Labor Day weekend, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security announced Tuesday.
The enforcement period begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30 and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday, Sept. 2. There were 12 fatalities during this time period last year, 17 percent of which were alcohol-related.
The enforcement campaign will be conducted in 11 counties across the state, including Sequatchie, Marion, McMinn and Meigs in the Chattanooga District, and is aimed at deterring impaired driving and reducing fatal crashes. The campaign allows law enforcement officials to seek search warrants for blood samples if they suspect that the driver is impaired.
"The ultimate goal is to save lives on Tennessee roadways," Bill Gibbons, Safety and Homeland Security commissioner, said in a prepared statement. "This targeted No Refusal enforcement gives law enforcement and prosecutors another tool to hold drunk drivers accountable."
So far this year, state troopers have arrested 3,728 individuals for impaired driving as of Aug. 24, according to Col. Tracy Trott. That's a 9 percent increase from this time last year, when that number was 3,414.
"DUI is one of the categories targeted throughout the year and especially during the holidays," Trott said in a prepared statement. "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."
The preliminary number of alcohol-related crashes is down 9.2 percent this year compared to the first seven months of 2012. From January to July 2013, there have been 3,904 alcohol-related crashes, which is 361 fewer than the 4,265 crashes from January to July 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 Aug. 27, preliminary numbers indicate that 630 people have died on Tennessee roadways, a decrease of nearly 8 percent from this time last year.
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