Over the New Year’s Eve holiday, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Col. Tracy Trott launched a “No Refusal” enforcement campaign over a 78-hour period that began at 6 p.m. Monday and ended at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday.
Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said this year the county partnered with the highway patrol in their New Year’s Eve efforts.
The “No Refusal” campaign was conducted in one county in each of the eight THP districts across the state with the intention of preventing impaired driving and reducing fatal accidents on Tennessee roadways.
Legislation for the campaign allowed law enforcement officials to seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers.
Counties that participated in the campaign included Sevier (Knoxville District); Grundy (Chattanooga District); Wilson (Nashville District); Tipton (Memphis District); Washington (Fall Branch District); Putnam (Cookeville District); Maury (Lawrenceburg District); and Benton (Jackson District).
The THP conducted saturation patrols, seat belt, sobriety and driver’s license checkpoints and bar/tavern checks during the holiday period.
In Wilson County, a sobriety checkpoint was held on New Year’s Eve night at the Highway 265 intersection with John Hager Road.
Bryan said a few arrests were made in Wilson County over the holiday period, but not many.
“The fact that we had the ‘Safe Ride’ program, which was a success, we had more than 75 to 80 people utilize that service,” Bryan said. “I think everything worked together well and all the efforts were a success.”
However, Bryan said there was one fatality, which was contributed to speed, no seatbelt and drinking.
According to the THP, during last year’s New Year’s Eve holiday, nine people were killed in eight fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways, which is an increase from six fatalities over the 2011-12 New Year’s holiday. Last year, alcohol was involved in five of the nine fatalities.
Trott said State Troopers arrested 6,180 individuals for impaired driving in 2013 from Jan. 1 through Dec. 20, which is up 11 percent from the 5,558 arrests made in 2012.
However, the preliminary number of alcohol-related crashes has decreased 3.7 percent this year compared to the same time period as last year. As of Dec. 20, there were 2,072 crashes involving impaired drivers, which was 80 fewer than the 2,152 crashes during the same period in 2012.
“All in all, I think the holidays were a success and the numbers were down, and we hope that they continue to go down,” Bryan said.