NASHVILLE— Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons and Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott today announced the department’s second “No Refusal” enforcement campaign at a joint press conference with the Governor’s Highway Safety Office (GHSO) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Nashville.
The “No Refusal” enforcement effort, beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 31 and concluding at midnight on Monday, September 3, will also coincide with the Labor Day holiday weekend. “No Refusal” is the latest enforcement strategy aimed at deterring impaired driving and reducing fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways. The new law, passed this year by the General Assembly, allows law enforcement officials to seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers.
“There were five counties that participated in the first ‘No Refusal’ campaign, and zero fatalities were reported in those counties during the Fourth of July, 126-hour enforcement. Our congratulations go out to the law enforcement, prosecutors and judges that participated in the effort,” Commissioner Gibbons said. “We are proud to again partner with local and state officials and highway safety advocates, including the Governor’s Highway Safety Office and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, in an expanded 16-county ‘No Refusal’ weekend,” Commissioner Gibbons added.
This targeted enforcement will focus on 16 counties where impaired driving and fatal crashes have increased in 2012. Two counties from each of the eight THP Districts will participate, including Roane and Campbell (Knoxville District); McMinn and Meigs (Chattanooga District); Robertson and Rutherford (Nashville District); Shelby and Tipton (Memphis District); Jefferson and Sullivan (Fall Branch District); Cumberland and Warren (Cookeville District); Bedford and Lincoln (Lawrenceburg District); and Chester and Weakley (Jackson District).
“Drunk driving continues to threaten public safety, and we refuse to stand by and give offenders the opportunity to claim innocent lives on our roadways,” Col. Trott said. “Our State Troopers will aggressively seek out violators and remove them from state roads. We look forward to working with our local law enforcement partners in the 16 selected counties across the state during this ‘No Refusal’ enforcement.”
In Tennessee, the preliminary number of alcohol-related crashes has increased 8.7 percent through the first seven months of 2012, compared to that same time period last year. During that time, there were 2,995 crashes involving impaired drivers. That is 240 more than the 2,755 crashes during those same dates in 2011.
Colonel Trott also noted the number of DUI arrests made by State Troopers in 2012. They arrested 3,557 individuals for impaired driving from January 1 through August 13, 2012. In 2011, the number of arrests made during that time was 2,757. That’s a 29 percent increase during the same dates.
In addition to the ‘No Refusal’ program, motorists can also expect sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols in other counties across the state for routine holiday enforcement.
During the 2011 Labor Day holiday, 12 people were killed in 11 fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways. That’s up from the 10 vehicular fatalities in 2010. Last year, alcohol was involved in two of the fatalities, and 40 percent of the vehicle occupants killed was not wearing safety restraints. Two motorcyclists were also killed during the 78-hour holiday period.
“Alcohol and seat belt usage are contributing factors in too many crashes in our state. This year, 55 percent of vehicle occupants killed in crashes were not wearing safety restraints. Our collaborative effort this weekend is also the perfect time to remind all motorists and their passengers to buckle up,” GHSO Director Kendell Poole said.
As of August 28, 2012, preliminary statistics indicate 666 have died on Tennessee roadways, an increase of 41 deaths (6.6%) compared to 625 fatalities at this same time last year.
A list of the scheduled “No Refusal” and Labor Day enforcement checkpoints are attached. A 2011 Labor Day holiday statistical sheet also accompanies this release.