In preparation for this weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day holiday, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) are gearing up for a statewide DUI enforcement campaign with more than 60 sobriety and driver license checkpoints planned across the state. The 2013 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period started at midnight, Friday, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.
“Traffic safety is a top priority for this department” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. “While St. Patrick’s Day is a time for friends and families to get together and celebrate, it is also a time for the public to be aware that the THP is out in force, and if you drink and drive you will go to jail.”
In Tennessee, six people were killed during the 2012 St. Patrick’s Holiday period. One fatality was alcohol-related. There were 79 crash fatalities nationwide on St. Patrick’s Day in 2011, according to statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Out of that number, 15 people were killed in traffic crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcyclist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
“The THP is serious about DUI enforcement,” THP Colonel Tracy Trott said. “It is our duty to ensure the safety of the public by keeping the roadways safe. Over the next 72 hours, we will be working vigorously to crack down on citizens who choose to drink and drive.”
During last year’s St. Patrick’s Day enforcement period, the THP made 63 impaired driving arrests statewide. Since January 1, 2013, State Troopers have arrested 1,153 DUI violators, a 2.7 percent increase from the 1,123 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 2012, preliminary statistics indicate that 1,021 people died on Tennessee roadways, an increase of 9.0 percent, compared to 937 fatalities in 2011.
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 2012.
ST. PATRICK’S DAY DRIVING TIPS
· Plan Ahead. If you plan to drink, arrange a safe way home before the festivities begin.
· Before drinking, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys.
· If you’re impaired, call a taxi, use public transportation, or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.
· Use the local Sober Ride program.
· If you see a drunk driver on the road, promptly contact your local law enforcement agency or Dial *THP (*847).
· Remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. If you or someone who is about to ride with someone who is impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.
· And remember, the tragedies and costs of driving drunk are serious and real. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for drunk driving are significant.
For more information on the consequences of impaired driving in Tennessee, visit http://tn.gov/safety/duioutline.htm.