Bedford will be one of 16 counties involved in the Tennessee Highway Patrol's "No Refusal" DUI enforcement campaign over the New Year's Eve holiday period.
The stepped-up enforcement will be in progress from 6 tonight until midnight New Year's night, the THP says.
Three checkpoints are planned in Bedford County on New Year's Eve as part of the initiative. A late night sobriety checkpoint will be held on U.S. 41A South at mile marker 23 and driver's license checkpoints are scheduled for State Highway 64 at mile marker 15 during the evening and State Highway 82 at mile marker 6.5 at night.
The THP is required by law to announce checkpoints and highways in advance but does not specify exact times or locations other than by mile markers.
"No Refusal" is the latest enforcement strategy aimed at deterring impaired driving and reducing fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways.
The 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. Previous "No Refusal" enforcements in Tennessee have been held during several holiday periods this year, including the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.
"The Tennessee Highway Patrol's eight district captains have worked tirelessly to coordinate this effort with local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, judges and emergency services personnel in their respective regions," Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. "They take their duty to ensure the public's safety seriously, and this enforcement effort is proof of their commitment."
During the New Year's Eve period, two counties from each of the eight THP Districts will participate in the No Refusal campaign, including 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).
"State Troopers will be aggressively looking for impaired drivers during the New Year's holiday. Also, we will be making every effort to remind citizens to buckle up. Alcohol and seat belt usage are contributing factors in too many crashes across the state. Our goal is to save lives this holiday season and to usher in the New Year on the right foot," THP Col. Tracy Trott said.
Five people were killed during last year's New Year's Eve period. Three were not wearing safety restraints. In 2012, 52.4 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities are from unrestrained vehicle occupants in Tennessee. Additionally, alcohol related crashes are on the rise across the state. There have been 7,567 alcohol crashes already this year, an increase of 182 more impaired driving crashes (2.5 percent) than this time last year.
In 2011, an estimated 262 people died in Tennessee traffic crashes involving a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. That's a 7.4 percent decline from the 283 impaired driving deaths in 2010, and a 12.4 percent decline from the 299 impaired driving deaths in 2009.
As of Dec. 27, preliminary statistics indicate that 1,000 people have died on Tennessee roadways in 2012, an increase of 70 deaths compared to 930 fatalities at this same time a year ago. An early estimate of impaired driving fatalities this year reveals that 238 people have died in vehicular crashes involving alcohol.